It was late afternoon on a chilly winter’s day in New England when we received a call from our contractor in northern Michigan. I could tell by the tone of his voice that he wasn’t calling with good news. I heard phrases like “rotting foundation,” “septic issues,” and “supply-chain challenges,” then the real doozy: “double the budget.”
We were a year into the renovation of our cottage, and at this moment, things felt rather hopeless.
When we bought our 130-year-old property in northern Michigan in September 2020, we thought we’d be moving in by June 2021. Yet here we are, near the end of summer 2022, and we’re still about six months to completion. Our straightforward project turned into a massive gut renovation that has more than doubled in budget and thrown every possible twist and turn our way.
If you’ve ever wondered why your neighbor’s home renovation is taking so long, there are probably a thousand reasons. Each board pried off the wall of our home revealed a host of unexpected issues. Sudden disasters like a delivery truck driving directly into our cottage and tearing the brand-new porch from the rest of the house only added more delays.
But beyond the mishaps that have plagued home renovations since time immemorial, a perfect storm of economic problems — labor shortages, supply-chain delays, and inflation issues — have been slamming the housing market since the pandemic began.
For us, it’s been an eventful and eye-opening journey. But despite it all, I’m thrilled with our progress. A home renovation is a practice in patience — after all, good things take time.
We snuck into the housing market just before it exploded
I’ve been spending summers in northern Michigan since childhood, staying in a tiny tin-can rental cabin on the shore