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What was I thinking when I promised myself—and more importantly my husband, Phil—that we would be ready to move into our new “old” house by mid-February? Well, Phil did get to move in—to the tiny garden apartment where I’d been camping out during renovations. Now with two adults and a dog, the quarters are crowded and the work seems to be progressing even more slowly for me (and far too slowly for Phil).
My husband’s office is almost finished, but the rest of the house is in various stages of completion. For instance, the closets have no door hardware, so I have been using a nail file. Usually I like things tidy, but I seem to be strangely content these days to have my clothes piled on chairs and benches just for the sheer convenience. The contractor has begun making nasty sounds, because some of the components for the kitchen cabinets are still missing. I lie awake at night, praying for parts and worrying about what I can do to keep the work on schedule.
Here are the best tips for coping with remodeling work that I’ve been able to assemble from this experience and previous projects:
Manage expectations. Throughout this remodel, one of my key roles has been to manage expectations—my own, my husband’s and the workers’. I have become a constant presence, determined to keep the work progressing on some level. When it stalls, I am the one who suggests tackling something else until the previous problem is resolved.
Familiarize yourself with the work. You certainly don’t need to know the job inside and out, but it does help if you have some understanding of what the work at hand is, and what is required to get it done properly. When did I learn that the multi-pole dimmer needs a “companion switch”? I’m not sure, but it’s something I know now.
Become project manager. In addition to sourcing products on the internet, I’ve become quite adept at locating invisible screws and missing parts and fixtures throughout the house. I am resigned to do whatever it takes to keep on schedule. The contractor assures me that work will be completed in late May. I just want to make sure it is late May of 2012.
Keep up morale. I bake cookies and distribute them in the afternoon when blood sugar is low. It’s important to keep the workers in good moods, particularly since I now spend more time with them than I do with my husband. To be sure, I am looking forward to having the relationship end soon, and amicably (with the workers, not my husband).
It will get done. This has become my daily mantra. I’ve been through the process so many times before’ I know things have a way of coming together. And they will for this remodel too, and oh, what a happy day that will be!