Who likes hearing hammers and nail guns at 7:00AM? This girl does! This summer, we’re tearing up our modest 1914 frame cottage, originally built as an Up North (as we say in Michigan) retreat for Detroiters a century ago. We’re keeping the original house and footprint, while roughly doubling our square footage, to accommodate our family of five. The renovation and addition will allow us to incorporate some great 21st century amenities, such as … closets. I am personally thrilled at the prospect of no line for the shower at 6:00AM, and having storage for the giant pile of cleats and balls that accumulates just inside my front door.
Our family has elected to live here during construction. Brave? Foolish? Naïve? Perhaps. We thought we would be natural candidates to tough it out and stay home through the renovation storm. Here’s what we knew and now know.
EMPATHY: As a design professional, I understand the frustration of clients going through construction. Under no circumstances does our team ever suggest living or working onsite during build-out, unless they have a full understanding of the process. Having even the best contractors work in your home is a distraction. A one week project differs dramatically from a full demolition and build-out. Living in the midst of the frenzy is a great reminder that clients need empathy.
PATIENCE: There are always changes. Like death and taxes, you can count on changes. Calendars change, with trades called off to another project, or weather impacting the pouring of concrete. There are always slight discrepancies between the drawings and what the crew discovers in real life. Patience is required to stay calm and positive through the project. The estimate you’ve received for construction timeline? Double it.
BUDGET: Staying onsite through the project can save the additional cost of renting living space, but owners need to factor in additional housing expenses above and beyond the cost of remodeling. There may be periods of major inconvenience, when you just need to pack it up and leave for a few days or weeks. Depending on the scale of improvement, it may be more efficient for contractors to work with no owners living or working on site.
PRIVACY: There is no privacy. It is recommended that all family members wear clothing as they begin the day. There is a carpenter looking to access an electrical panel or a plumber with a question. They will knock, but perhaps you were unable to hear them over the roar of the air compressor and aforementioned nail guns.
POSITIVITY: Greet those workers with a smile. Just this morning, a crew showed up to work after being pulled to another job at the last minute. I had resigned myself to practice patience, empathy, and enjoy some privacy. Their unscheduled arrival made me jump for joy. It’s a beautiful day to sheet the roof and frame out some dormer windows. That sawdust in my oatmeal maybe doesn’t taste so bad.