How long should the finish work take? That depends on the job, of course. When the job involves plastering and painting, each of those steps will take a few days. Given the work that comes before and after, finish work will require a minimum of two weeks. On big renovations, two months may be more reasonable.
Before your contractor has completed his job, he should clean up his mess. There shouldn’t be chunks of wood left embedded in the soil (they’re lures for termites). All tools and equipment and materials should disappear along with the contractors and their workmen. The bathtub shouldn’t be left with a gritty layer of grout in it, and you should be able to see yourself in the mirror. There also should be no tools or materials tucked away in a comer of your basement or garage.
But let’s suppose the paint is dry, the toilets flush, and the contractor’s tools are finally gone. Even the bills are paid.
This is really the best part. By this point you will have made it through many sleepless nights, confronted some expenses that astonished you (and been surprised at the reasonableness of some others), and been struck dumb by one or more of the magicians who can take a pile of materials and turn it into a key part of your home.
Expect to have a few second thoughts. Having now lived in our Cambridge house for a couple of years, we’re very happy there. But I have a few small complaints. One is that our kitchen cabinets are too shallow to accommodate large serv ing platters and other bulky items. The approach our architect took is that such rarely used items ought to be stored downstairs in the cellar. But since we entertain often, that doesn’t really suit our lifestyle. So I keep an heirloom nest of platters in the top drawer of a secretary in the front hall, just off the kitchen. We all adapt one way or another. I hope that your worst problem is no more serious than that.
So have a seat. Relax. Enjoy the feel and comfort of what you have wrought. And promise me something, okay? Don’t even think about your next project. For at least a week.