By Lance McCarthy
New clients are hardly ever prepared for the emotional challenge of a remodeling project. I considered forcing them to watch the movie “Money Pit” from back before Tom Hanks considered himself a serious actor, but I thought I might get backlash. (“Two weeks”?)
So instead, I’ll try to describe the highs and lows that emotional roller coaster frequently takes. Every person and family and space is different, but patterns do emerge. Being aware of them can make them easier to handle.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…
There are several points in the process that are very pleasant–even euphoric. But all of them–except the last one–are usually followed by a crash!
High- The floor plan: This is one of the most exciting moments, when a client is able to see what their space could be. You mean my wife and I could each have our own sink?
Low- The budget: Everything costs more than you think–the dentist, new tires, and remodeling projects. Seeing those numbers in black and white is a downer. Sinks are expensive! Maybe we could just get by with a bucket and a hose.
High- Signing the contract: This means we are official. We did it! I can’t believe we did it!
Low- Demolition: This is the messiest and most unpredictable part of the project. Places with memories have been reduced to rubble. Your routines are disrupted and you are uncomfortable. I’ve only been laying on this inflatable mattress for an hour and I hate it. Can I last 3 months?
High- Rough-in: This is one of the fastest phases. Walls go up, tubs go in, windows are installed. You feel like Ty will come around the corner with a bullhorn at any moment.
Low-Drywall: This phase is as boring as watching mud dry…wait…it is actually watching mud dry. It seems like the house is empty for a week, and that nothing will ever get finished. Where is everybody?! And why is there dust in my underwear drawer?
High-Finishes: Cabinets are going in, trim goes up, tile is being laid. Alright, we are almost there. I can unpack my DVD collection.
Low-Almost Done: This is where dozens of annoying little details are being wrapped up by dozens of people-plumbers straightening spouts, painters touching up nicks, hardwood guys removing scratches…some days it seems like the project takes 1 step forward and 2 steps back. Alright. Enough is enough. Get out of my house. I want to start wearing my ratty bathrobe again!
High-Done Done: It will seem surreal for a bit, but the project will end, and the noise and hustle of normal life will flow in to the new space and fill it until it is Home. The discomfort will mellow in memory, and if it goes as planned, you will have a space that makes life more intimate, joyful and connected.
Couple of survival tips? Communicate openly but positively. Try to find a happy place that you can escape to. And if all else fails, remember a phrase we use when travelling: “Bad days make good stories.”
You can also view this column with our partner PVPost.com