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How to Survive Construction

So you’ve decided to take on a construction project. You’ve picked out your finishes, and you’ve worked with an designer/architect to design the space. The slate tile you’ve dreamed of will soon be beneath your bare feet. The added insulation means you will no longer have to walk around in your jacket until you succumb to turning the thermostat higher and giving up lower heating bills for your comfort. You won’t need to worry about the seat slamming, because your new toilet seat will be soft-close and gently ease down without a peep. The view through your new kitchen window will allow daylight to pour in while you gaze outside and take in the new lovely view that has been created.

But before the positive emotions pour over you, you must live through six months of construction.

You know it will be worth it. You know there is incredible value in living in a highly functional, aesthetically pleasing space. However, the thought of six months of microwave dinners, all of you using one toilet, and perhaps a basement shower set-up next to the temporary kitchen (which consists of a hot plate, the microwave and, of course, the coffee maker), makes you search for air flights to see how quickly you can get out of the country. Construction can be tough for everyone in your family.

As a matter of course we generally advise our clients to move out of their homes during construction for many reasons. However, we know for some folks this isn’t an option so here are a few tips to help you manage the journey ahead:

What You Need to Know About the Construction Process

Before you get too overwhelmed, here are some things to keep in mind to keep it all in perspective, understanding that it is indeed a process.

Your Contractor Is a Person

And that person cares about your happiness. Every day, your home is their office. They have no privacy and they constantly have someone looking over their shoulder while they are busily verifying every detail. Please know that their goal is to ensure the best outcome for your project.

Work Varies on a Day-to-Day Basis

Some days a lot of work will get done, and some days nothing will. Construction relies on a lot of people to get the job done. It relies on subcontractors, tradespeople, specialty carpenters, granite suppliers, tile fabricators, and boat drivers shipping that tile from Italy (or preferably somewhere within a 500 mile radius). Some days the stars align; some days they don’t.

Mistakes Happen

And they will be corrected. An analogy we like to use: “You don’t watch your car as it moves down the assembly line.” It’s a messy process, there are mistakes, but all you see is the highly reflective, glossy final product with an interior smell reminding you this car is new. When you live through construction, you see that assembly line on a daily basis. Trust that your contractor will produce that glossy, new smelling “car” at the end of the job.

Construction Survival Tips

Help your remodeling project run smoothly by following these tips.

Set Appropriate Expectations

Understand that construction is a work in progress.

Make All Decisions Before Construction Starts

Finalize the design, make decisions, and finish selections—it will make your life easier and keep things running on schedule and on budget.

Understand Some Things Are Unpredictable

Set aside a contingency of about 5%, and expect to spend it. There are things you can’t see or assess before demolition.

Donuts and Coffee

If the team seems stressed, it never hurts to send positive compliments to the field crew. Donuts and coffee go a long way.

Washtenaw Dairy Donuts

Try to enjoy the journey—when it comes to an end, you’ll love the result.

By Melissa Kennedy

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