What do we do while faced with a pandemic and spending a lot of time at home? We remodel!

As we all spend more time at home, everything is magnified. We notice the imperfections, and remember the things that have always bothered us. Maybe we determine that our space no longer meets our current needs. Our new normal may involve adapting our space to work or school remotely from our homes.

And then there is my family. We have lived in our home for 27 years and loved every minute. Like most people, we have things that we have wanted to change since we first moved in. Children, sports, college, businesses and travel all kept us busy and we just lived with it.

Now, my husband and I are the only two living in this home, and we just paid the last college tuition bill.   Of course it’s time to gut those bathrooms and change all the paint that we never really loved! Reader, as you may have already guessed, it has been chaos at our house. And… there are lessons learned that I’d like to pass along.

Lesson #1 – First comes the demolition work

   Make sure to build this into your timeline and anticipate the mess. This is the first step and, although it can be a great stress reliever for many to swing that sledgehammer, the dust works its way into every corner! If this is a remodel and you are living in the space, work hard to contain the space. The less you move in and out of the work space, the less you stir up the dust.

My husband is really good at demolition. In fact, too good. I think this is his stress relief. When I would take the kids to tennis lessons or a baseball tournament, I never knew what I might return home to find (or not find). Just one of many examples is the time that he took a sledgehammer to the soffit over our kitchen island. We knew we wanted to remove it someday but he could have timed it better than the hour before we were expecting guests for dinner.

Lession # 2 - The process never goes as smoothly as you like.

   Never be too tied into your plan because that’s when it will not work, and you’ll get stressed out. Always plan for more time and more money. Whenever you open a wall, move plumbing or electrical, budget for 15% - 25% more than you initially expect. We never know what we will find when we open something that has been closed for 25 years!

In addition, once you start selecting what you want and like, the more you notice. The more you notice, the more you refine your taste and selections. And more often than not the more you refine your selections the higher the price tag goes. The good news is that, because you challenged yourself to think about what works best in your space, you will most likely enjoy the selection for many years to come.

Lesson # 3 - Plan Ahead

   Designate someone to be in charge, who will schedule and coordinate all the experts needed to get your job done. If the project is a big one, definitely hire a licensed contractor. They oversee the process and warranty their work. If you want to serve as the project manager, that is certainly possible but make sure to get multiple bids; do not pay in advance but installments;, and be flexible.

Lesson # 4 - Trust the professionals

   Leave the tough stuff to the professionals. They do this work everyday and are always better than the weekend warrior who searches for video directions on-line. From experience, I find that the professionals come in, work hard, clean up when finished, and work to completion. Note to self:  When we attempt to tackle the project, it usually only gets done to about 75% and then sits until I call a professional. Plus, I have to do the clean-up!

Lesson # 5 - A deal isn’t always a good deal

   One of the most frequent questions that I get from both my husband and my clients is “why should I purchase products from specialized plumbing or lighting stores when I can often find it cheaper through a big box dealer?”  Bottom line is the product purchased at the professional level is better quality, built to last longer, and comes with a warranty -  well worth the extra cost.

   “Oh yeah?” says hubby.  “Prove it.”  (Not only once, but Every. Darn. Time we have a project).  I get it that he wants to save money.  But I may have convinced him finally with the plumbing fixtures I recently purchased through the professional dealer for the kids’ bath. Because our bath is now under construction, he showered using the new showerhead and emerged praising my choice and agreeing “you get what you pay for.”  

   During these disruptive times, I hope to leave you with a little chuckle at the craziness that goes on in my household. Also this:  I recognize that not all of us can use this time to remodel our homes so I hope you can do things that keep your space calm, peaceful and comfortable. In the wise words of a dear friend, light a candle and breathe deeply.