Spaces for Life

The ReTouch Home Improvement blog



Space for Life: Lance-isms – The phrases that I use to describe remodeling

By Lance McCarthy

I have a confession.

I’m not good at using normal words to describe things.  Just ask my wife!  This is especially true in my work.  My job is to help my clients have the right expectations, but how do I describe something they’ve never experienced?  I use analogies.

When they hear me say, “It’s like…” my team rolls their eyes. Hear we go again! Another analogy!

So here are some of my current favorite ways to describe the remodeling experience.  Can you relate?

  • A meal I love at $5 is a meal I hate at $50

People often try to separate the budget part of a project from the design part.  I think this is a mistake.  Both parts influence each other.  Do I love a Chipotle burrito?  Yes.  If it cost $100?  Nope.  Do you love those jets for the shower?  Yes.  If they cost $800?  I don’t know.  Maybe.  Budget and design should be part of the same conversation.


  • The “who” is more important than the “what”

Buying a house requires only a few days with a realtor, but remodeling a house requires months (which sometimes feel like YEARS) with a contractor.  It is really important that this connection feels right, because it will experience some real trials.  I have been a part of that relationship on occasion when it is not a good fit, and it impacts every part of the process.


  • A remodeling project is like having major surgery

Very few people say, “wow, that surgery felt great, let’s do that again!”.  But it can dramatically change your life for the better.  Remodeling is like that.  It can create a space for you to share decades of loving memories, but the weeks or months of the construction are full of inconvenience.  No scalpels or open backed gowns (at least on my jobs), but plenty of inconvenience.


  • Your house is a story with different chapters

Each room has a different purpose.  It should have a distinct feeling as well.  While a kitchen is a standing up, moving around, loud and creative place, a dining room is a sitting down, softer, more intimate and sheltered space.  Good design will make these spaces each have their own voice that the inhabitants can respond to when they are in them.


  • Three spoiled children fighting over a blanket

You have goals for your project.  You will probably have a Scope goal (how much of the house is involved), Quality goal (how nice will the things be), and Cost goal (do I need to explain this one?).  And they will conflict with each other.  Every client has a unique mix of these three elements, but just like spoiled children, the more one takes, the less is left for the other two.  Ignore the kids too long and pretty soon everyone is crying.

  • We are each holding part of the map

You know in the movie when the three people each have a fragment of a treasure map, and then they slide the three fragments together on some dusty table and the entire picture becomes clear?  That is what my work is like.  I am an expert in knowing how buildings go together and what construction costs.  My architect and designers are experts in knowing how to make things look good and feel right.  My clients know what their values are and what they want to accomplish.  But we need each other to find the treasure in the end.


Alright, so I just made up the last one.  What do you think?

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