At the beginning of March, Miss D. and I received payment of a long-overdue debt. We immediately paid off all our revolving credit and short-term-debt; but rather than bank the rest (where inflation would eat it away at up to a quarter of its spending value every year), we decided to take care of some much-needed renovations and upgrades, and add some features to our home that we've been wanting for a while.
Yesterday, Wednesday, June 1, three months later almost to the day, the last major task was completed with the addition of insulation to our newly-built utility shed. It's been very hard work, coordinating providers and agents, getting everything done in the right sequence and to specification, pulling building permits where necessary, and so on. Still, it's been worth it. We now have:
- A new HVAC system, replacing an old one that wasn't big enough for our home and just about at the end of its reliability tether;
- A new, expanded electricity circuit board, repairing some serious issues that were only uncovered thanks to our other renovations and making our home much safer to live in;
- A new emergency generator to help during power outages;
- Expanded emergency reserves of essential supplies;
- A larger rear gate, allowing vehicle access to the back of our property if necessary (and if the landowner out back agrees to let us cross his property - we always ask permission);
- A new (roofed) patio, making it very pleasant to sit outside in the evenings and enjoy the fresh air (when Texas weather allows, of course - hundred-degree temperatures are no fun, even on a shaded patio!);
- A new utility building, complete with electric power, HVAC and insulation. It replaced a much smaller garden shed, and will be used for storage, projects, and gardening tools and necessities.
Now for the last minor touches, such as sealing concrete, painting trim, stringing lights on the patio, moving all sorts of stuff from the garage and a storage unit into the new utility building, encouraging the grass to re-grow where construction tore it up, and so on. We have friends with a teenage son who likes to earn extra money by helping with such things. I'm devoutly grateful for that. My mind may like to think it's still young and vigorous, but my body begs to differ!
I must admit, I'm flat exhausted. Getting everything done in just three months took a whole lot of hard work, sitting on contractors' backs to make sure they kept to the agreed schedule (and their promises), did satisfactory work, and came back to fix it when it wasn't. In most cases, they did a great job. Their biggest problem was fitting us into their already very busy schedules (we were a small-fry customer compared to their usual clientele), juggling staff (who are in very short supply, at least as regards workers who are both competent and willing to work hard), and finding equipment and supplies in the face of a supply chain crunch. One big item, our new insulated garage door, still isn't here three months after ordering it, and it may take as long again before it arrives. Oh, well - there's nothing any of us can do but wait for it to get here.
Financially speaking, we reckon our expenditure was about a third higher than we initially calculated. Part of that was discovering that we needed urgent (and expensive) remedial electrical work, for which we hadn't budgeted: but you don't fool around or try to cut corners with potentially dangerous defects like that. Another part was the effects of rapidly rising prices; on three major contracts, prices that were quoted had to be increased because material costs rose faster than expected. Finally, there were the inevitable cost overruns where we forgot to take this, or that, or the other factor into account. Still, I'm not complaining. We'll have the excess costs paid off in a couple of months, and call it good.
I'm going to cut back on working on our home for a while, giving it just an hour or two per day while I get cracking on writing again. Maxwell Volume 6 is calling loudly for attention.