Open Door

Open Door
Indianapolis, Indiana

Friday, March 22, 2013

Finding a Contractor – Part 2 - Why It’s Not Just a Search for a Contractor

Back in December my search for a contractor began. It was slow going at first. I was still not feeling well, the business was unusually busy, and I had no idea where to start with this process. I had a few companies recommended to me and I began with them.

After going through the house with a couple of the prospective companies it became clear that we have additional work to do. When we originally wrote the proposal for working on the house we were expecting to go to closing much more rapidly and have more time that first summer. In the proposal our first priority was to stabilize the walls of the west wing, remove the debris from the cellar, put in floor joists for the first and second floors of the west wing, and to lay in the subfloor and throw up a temporary stairway to the second floor. The next items were to empty the trash from the front part of the house and get the doors, windows, and roof watertight. All of this was to be completed by fall and over the winter we would begin working on reinforcing the floor joists in the rest of the house. The structural engineer recommended that the joists become a priority. We also planned on doing the work on the Bungalow, get moved, and get the Beech Grove house sold.

(Temporary stairway was intended to protect this wonderful front stairway.)
Needless to say none of those things happened in the proper order and timeframe. Only part of the stabilization was done and that was not completed until early November. Just getting the board removed and the front door replaced was a real challenge with Eric’s broken ankle so we did not get to the weatherproofing or floor joists. The only items we completed on the Bungalow were getting the electricity on, the security set up, and many of the supplies purchased. In the late winter and early spring we had a number of setbacks that just added to the work: the break in of the Bungalow, a major hail storm did significant damage to our Beech Grove house, and then I got sick and was down for several months.

How does this change what we are doing? Well, all of the contractors have pointed out that we are no longer on a crazily tight timeframe with the stabilization, so just throwing up a temporary staircase is a waste of time and money. That means we need to know where I want the stairs when the house is done. Hmmm. That’s not an easy decision and I was planning on getting an architect to help us with that. So, now I need to go ahead and find an architect and get started on that part of the project. Well, when conversing with the contractors pretty much all of them recommend that we have an HVAC company help us with the design for whatever system we are going to put in since the technology is always changing and they are the experts on that. Now we need to decide on a company to work with on the HVAC system, choose what kind of system we are going to put in, and then have them collaborate with the architect on where and how to hide all of the pipes/ducts/whatever else there might be.

Part of the current/remaining HVAC system.
All of this means that I am not just looking for a contractor. The contractor needs to be able to do the work on the Beech Grove house too or at least help me find a reliable company to do that work. I also need to choose an architect and HVAC company, become an expert on heating and air conditioning options, learn about plumbing, and pretty much make my final decisions on where I want everything to be when the house is complete. We also need to finish the work on the Bungalow and get moved.

Wow. Just writing this out is making me think it’s time to stop and go have a drink. J

Next Blog: The Search Begins


  1. Looks like a great old house that deserves to be preserved. Good luck on what will be a challenging undertaking but rewarding in the end. My wife and I restored two houses in Irvington years ago and can feel your pain. Post your progress and once again good luck.

  2. this house has always caught my attention! Years ago some people were working on it. When she is done she will be beautiful again...and so worth all the trials and tribulations! Good luck and God bless for saving this beauty!


  3. Hands down best rehab contractor for historic properties. Maple Road Construction. (317) 283-2040

  4. Always loved that house..

  5. As a teenager going to Howe, I would walk/drive by there every day. I always thought of the Addams Family but then when I got older I started thinking about what great historical value the house must have. I'm so glad I happened upon your blog. This is so cool. I, too, live in Beech Grove. Good luck and hope to keep up with your progress.

  6. Have loved that house practically my whole life. I'm so glad to hear someone wants to save it.

  7. Always loved this house. Happy someone is going to save it. Good luck with your restoration. Can't wait to see the transformation!