…occupants that is. We aren’t talking about the best approach to sequencing your project – though that will help speed it along. We’re talking about how to survive, and come out alive on the other side of the construction. If you haven’t done it before, don’t assume that you – or your partner, husband, wife, kids, pets, furnishings, electronics, etc, are up for the challenge. Individually and/or collectively they may have no desire to be exposed to the dust, the frustration, the workers 7am arrival each morning, and so many more inconveniences real, and perceived. Preframing the situation is critical.
First, understand that whatever schedule has been provided to you will undoubtably be breeched. There will be a delay in material, a subcontractor that didn’t show when he or she was expected, a piece of equipment required that breaks, lost, was stolen, or just plain disappeared. Without this piece of equipment – your job will suffer delays. Tack on an extra week for each month required in the original schedule. NEVER say it out loud but do prepare yourself the modified completion date. This little trick will give you an extra boost of stamina, you’ll need it.
Second, it’s going to cost way more than you expected. This can happen for a number of reasons. For instance, you or your builder may discover something unexpected when they start ripping and tearing. The fancy word for this is “unforeseen” condition. Just because it’s fancy doesn’t mean it’s nefarious. It’s just the way renovations go. You remove the bathroom floor only to discover that the joists are rotted – uh oh – unforeseen condition – added expense. Then there’s the reality that the lighting you wanted, and which fit your budget won’t be available before your project is supposed to be finished. Now you have a choice here, go with the more expensive version that looks almost exactly the same or a discount store knock off that’s off-white instead of pure white. You know what you’d do. Last of all – brace yourself, because if you thought the first two increases were bad enough, you’re really not going to like the last – You. That’s right – you are the reason for the increase. Either you didn’t make the decision you needed to make in time or you made it and then regretted it, so begged the builder to change it. Which he/she did, but it cost you. Ouch. The tip here is to add an additional 15% to the cost. You’ll either get close to the number or happily not spend it all.
Create zip barriers to the spaces that you will occupy and never leave them open to the construction dust. On average it takes about a year to get the dust out of all the nooks and crannies. A plain old sheet of plastic over the door, held up by Duct Tape won’t do. Now I know what your thinking – Duct Tape can handle anything, unless you want to be sipping sawdust with your morning coffee, laying your curly locks on a pillow of billowy wood shavings – heed my warning.
Finally, be kind – whether to your family, your pet, or yourself – blaming never comes to a good end. Embrace the disruption, appreciate your new space when it’s over, and say a prayer to the construction gods to deliver you safely onto the other side.