Cookies – The Importance of the Contingency

Mmmmmm….. Cookies.

Hungry aren’t you?  I was, up until about fifteen minutes ago when I ordered a sandwhich.  Food posts make me that way.  My stomach kinda curls up and starts screaming until I throw in something a little more than the cube of cheese I consumed for breakfast.  (and now you know the secret to my very small physique….)

But alas, this isn’t a post about food.

No no.  I tricked you by luring you in with cookies.  I’m bad that way.  And yet you continue to stick around and endure my abuse.

And this is why I love you.

So anyway.  Where was I?  Oh yeah.  Cookies.  Problems.

Once upon a time I heard it said that Oprah (ie: God) recommended eating your dessert first.  And while I understood her reasoning since sure, eating dessert first meant that you didn’t pressure yourself into eating the rest of your meal (not that a bit of broccoli wouldn’t do you any good) I didn’t agree with it.  Think about it.  Eating your dessert first only means that you’re filling your body up with the extras.  The cookies.  And in the end, you’re missing out on the essentials.  Then after a few years when you’re suffering from “The Sugars” as the Queen of Butter calls it, you realize that you missed the heart of the problem.

The same goes for any remodel, redesign or refresh.  Sure, we all love the good stuff.  Picking out awesome fabrics, great art, beautiful furniture.  I love it too.  Something about watching a transformation happen before my eyes.  Walking into a blank room and leaving a finished environment.  But the reality is that all of this, all of the finishing, the furnishings, the art.  All of it is the Cookies.  And we all love the cookies.

But the truth is that as designers we can not get to the cookies until we’ve had a chance to tackle the main meal.  I know.  Plumbing and electrical work and HVAC and foundations and ….. It isn’t fun.  It isn’t pretty (unless you hire my plumber!).  And nine times out of ten it isn’t cheap.  In fact, half the time you don’t even know it’s going to pop up until it does.  I had a recent client who after they moved in (it was the night of) to their new fixer upper found that they could turn off all of the lights on the second floor of their house by flipping the switch to the garage door in their garage (which was in a building not even connected to the main house). Reworking wiring on the second floor took a major cut out of the budget for their master suite remodel but it had to be done.  Nothing like having a great master suite but oops, I just shut off the power, again.

It really (excuse my teenage slang) bites to have to take the money you’d put away for the awesome Samuel Heath antiqued brass Edwardian shower fixtures into something like Romex. Or light switches. Or shoring up the foundation of your house because a group of racoons decided to gnaw at your center post for the last three decades.  But…. never fear!  See there is this little step that you can take during the budgeting period that might help things along just a bit.

What?  A solution?

It’s called a contingency.  And it’s super important.  I won’t go into details about hows and whys and whats but will say that as soon as you have determined what it is you want to spend on your master bath or kitchen or addition, and lop 10% right off the top.  Put it into a savings account.  Pretend like it doesn’t exist.  Because it doesn’t.  Forgot about it already didn’t you?  Exactly.  Then when the time comes (and it will…. have your replaced your toilet recently?) and that rainy day happens (ok, more like breaching the levee type of day) you’ll have a little cash put away.  You can still get your amazeballs in-mirror tv without sweating bullets because the Other Half told you to lose something.  And if you don’t need it (lucky you!) you’ve got a little cash put away for an add on or two (did someone say towel warmer?).

One day when X-Ray vision is invented we might be able to avoid the non-cookie stuff.  We can inspect for it. We can budget for it.  We can keep it from happening long before it actually happens.  But until then, when visiting the grocery store of the remodeling world, we have to save room next to the cookies for the other stuff.

For the broccoli.

Now eat up.  I hear the Girl Scouts knocking.

This blog post is just one of the dozens of super-excellent blogs participating in this week’s theme “Cookies”.  To see the other great blogger’s take, click here to take you to the Let’s Blog Off page.

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12 thoughts on “Cookies – The Importance of the Contingency

  1. josephfreenor says:

    You didn’t say where that house was. In California, the seller is legally obligated to inform the buyer of any problems with the property. That is clearly a problem and something that would have had to be disclosed. Since it wasn’t, the seller could have sued for the price of that particular repair.

    • dcoopsd says:

      The root cause came from a short in wiring from a panel upgrade that the new owners had performed just prior to their move in. The electrician they’d hired added the additional circuitry the clients were looking for but failed to ensure that all of the existing circuits were not “tangled” so to speak when he installed them in the new panel. In the end, it was because of the client’s work that the issue existed but an issue none the less.

      Not to mention the house was built in 1920; faulty wiring due to presence of knob and tube was included in the disclosures and resulted in a lower selling price (Original asking $899,000; final selling price $715,000).

      Fun stuff right?

  2. hungouttobuy says:

    But I like the cookies, the cupcakes, and all the frosting. I am one of those who takes my finger along the back of a chocolate cake, where no one can see. In the same way we can’t ever foresee those costly projects. I think every homeowner needs to be reminded of this as do I. Now pass the cookies and the milk, my wiring is working just fine. (not totally true) We have a few crossed wires on our second. Now we are use to it. Not sure what the next homeowners might think. Thanks for a good post. Elizabeth

  3. jaxdecor says:

    Love how you draw the comparison between cookies and decorating 🙂 You’re so right, the last step of making a room pretty really is like the dessert treat after a healthy meal with lots of green veggies. We don’t necessarily like all the green veggies, but if we don’t eat them, we can’t get to the good stuff!

    Your contingency plan tip is fantastic. I need to do this!

    • dcoopsd says:

      Thanks Kelly! It came to me one evening while eating Oreos. Just kidding. I actually don’t like Oreos. They leave all that black stuff in your teeth. Which brings me to my next point…..


  4. […] Did you just say you’re mad at me because there weren’t real cookies involved in yesterday’s post? […]

  5. […] Did you just say you’re mad at me because there weren’t real cookies involved in yesterday’s post? […]

  6. patz1 says:

    Love the clever analogy. I didn’t know Oprah had said that.

    • dcoopsd says:

      I don’t remember exactly when but it was well before she left her regularly scheduled tv show to become the Queen of her own network 😀

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