It’s not the mess or the money that makes home renovation so hard. It’s the emotion of seeing your foundation pulled apart. Home is home, no matter how much you dislike parts of it.
In addition to the literally hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of details that need to be reviewed, managed and decided in a home renovation it’s also an emotional process. Managing the emotional stress is the key to getting through.
After many years of helping clients through their home renovation projects, and living through several of my own, I’ve developed a list of things people can do to manage effectively through renovation stress:
1/ Have a comfortable set of interim accommodations
If you are not desperate to be out of your current living arrangement you will not be tempted to go for the quick compromise when a problem emerges.
Changing elements of the design to save time will almost always lead you to decisions you regret daily for years after the pain of the renovation is a distant memory.
2/ Remind yourself (often) that the pain is temporary
On that note, it’s useful to remember that this is usually a voluntary situation. If you are warm and comfortable and within your financial means you can ride out whatever challenges get thrown at you along the way.
The discomfort will be a blip in time. It really will will be. If you are uncomfortable, it’s going to be harder.
3/ Spend more time than seems necessary planning ahead
The more you know, the more challenges you’ll see coming. Don’t swing a hammer until you’ve got all your finishes and drawings complete.
Construction is not the time to select items and make decisions. Construction is the time to execute a plan and resolve conflicts.
4/ Focus on the milestones
Understand the major milestones for your renovation project and plan your site visits accordingly. Tempting as it is to go everyday to ‘check progress’, if you do that without understanding the milestones, you’ll quickly grow frustrated.
The reality is that work in the early or mid-stages can look unimpressive. A full day of creative problem solving may not look like progress, but is essential. Also, if you’ve never framed, wired or plumbed a house, you likely grossly underestimate the time involved to get it done. Better to know what the next milestone goal is so you can check against where you are on the broader road to completion.
5/ Hire for philosophy
No renovation company can deliver everything, but there are philosophical fits and misfits. There is always a trade-off to be made between cost, time and quality. Choose service providers that most closely match your ideal for each.
If you value quality first you will not be happy with someone that rushes through details to finish more quickly, even if waiting an extra week or two is annoying. And, if you value detailed communication, you will not be happy with someone who never sends an update, even if they are doing great work on the right schedule.
Putting together a team you have good communication with and trust to adhere to your values through the ups and downs of a renovation project is key. If the communication feels hard and unclear before you even start, it will not get better when you encounter an unexpected challenge.
What were some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced on a renovation? What worries you most about taking one on?
Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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