Client Empathy Blog #5—Regrets, Perfection, Pride and Sanity


New Family Room --The Former Porch

New Family Room --The Former Porch

  1. Weather has been terriffic
  2. Second payment made to contractor
  3. Third floor as you learned has become a little more part of Phase I.
  4. Framing complete. Roof on. Windows in (minus few we added late in the game). Rough plumbing complete. Electrical starting. Cedar siding ...lumber yards are in short supply...slight delay on delivery.
  5. Cabinets selected and order going in.
  6. Appliances, plumbing fixtures finalized. Tile ordered.
  7. Counters selected and decorative lighting work in progress.
  8. Eight weeks in—on the "fast schedule."

For those following the Client Empathy Blog you know that I am working to share our personal experience of adding on to and renovating our own home. 

Taking on a home remodeling project of any scale can be one of the most challenging, yet rewarding, experiences a homeowner will undertake. When you and your spouse own and operate an Architectural and Interiors firm as well as a Cabinetry dealership and you design, advise and advocate for others day in and day out, as well as think about your own house for over 20 years…you would think it would be easy as pie. 

With countless design choices, layers of dust and a revolving door of workers, just thinking about it can send even the most laid-back person to bed with a mind-numbing headache. Whether it’s truly your blood, sweat and tears going into the remodel or just in theory letting professionals take the lead, there’s no doubt about it, home building, renovations, alterations and additions are complicated. The silver lining, however, is the sense of accomplishment and homeowner pride once the project is complete and your design dreams are realized.

One of the best ways to keep stress at a manageable level is by working with a professional.  Working with a professional can make the remodel process much smoother by avoiding budget pitfalls, schedule delays and a crushed design dream. Having that professional by your side advising you is key. When you are creating your own home, there is pride and it becomes more emotional than you realize, you need an advocate to keep moving toward the original goals, design intent and budget.

The thing is, we are the professionals.  

Q-Who is our support system? Our advocates? Who is looking out for us?

A-Our team of respected colleagues. They have been really supportive…and some giving us the knowing side eye look…when we somehow think we would be immune to the pain of this process.   They are anxious too. They know how hard we work and are happy to see us doing this for ourselves and want to make sure they demonstrate their best for us. They have been just as responsive to our calls for us as they are for our clients. And for that we are so thankful. 

There is an old saying "the Doctors' mistakes are buried, Lawyers' mistakes go to jail and Architects' mistakes stand for everyone to see until the ivy covers them." So the dreams/nightmares are pride issues along with fear of regretting the choices we make. So, below I have taken to addressing a few of these issues.

Regrets, Perfection, Pride and Sanity

Q-   Will I have regrets? 

A-This is a major stress. My daughter reminds me that we waited 20 years to fix the kitchen and bathroom that were in need of renovations when we purchased the home. So, whatever we do, we are going to look at until we die. There will not be an “add it in the future”. The magnet put on the refrigerator by my kids about two years ago reads, “If we are lucky we might see the house completely renovated before we die.”  With budget a factor, it is challenging to decide what is of true importance. Emotions and desire get in the way of rational thinking. We don't want to regret spending foolishly on things and we don't want to regret not getting what we really want. 

Q-Will it be perfect?

A-We know all the latest and greatest finishes and appliances. Clients—I feel you more now, more than ever. As we muse and fuss over the details of the cabinetry, counters and the trim on the exterior we are taking turns reassuring each other in the morning that the dreams/nightmares are just that and we are making logical choices….when, if we are really honest, so much emotion is driving the decisions and then the dollars. I keep reminding myself that we have to make choices/sacrifices…just like everyone else. I remind myself that anything is better than what we had. In the end, as much as we would like to have full control, sometimes things will just be what they are and most people won’t notice…I just hope that we won’t sit in the space and only see the “compromises” when it is complete.

Front of House new roof with dormer

Front of House new roof with dormer

Q-  Managing the peanut gallery the haters?

A-Years ago, I read a “Dear Abby” type column where the wife complained that her husband, the contractor, would never finish their house. That there were all these unfinished projects. “Dear Abby” responded that if he finishes the project then people will be able to judge it. If it is a work in progress, he can simple say it’s not done yet. I get it. As we were working to get on budget, we removed the changes to  the front portico and front door for now. The original goals were to renovate the kitchen and bathroom with a second bathroom and bedroom addition. the front of the house is priority two. The details on the front of the house would have to wait.

Rafter detail

Rafter detail

Marvin designed an amazing dormer for the front, complete with rafter tails that are consistent with the new addition on the rest of the new roof. Now that it is complete, the front door details are not of the same language. It does not have rafter details. Marvin is sick over it. I see it too. It needs to be changed…however, it just is not in the budget or part of the original goals. It will wait. Thank goodness for our level-headed contractor. He reassured us that it can happen but not now.  We need to keep our focus on the plans and the budget. So to anyone that picks up on that detail: We know! it’s a work in progress—don’t judge—it’s not finished yet.

Q-  How do we keep our wits about us?

A-Last night I escaped by going to yoga and when they reminded us to set an intention, I visualized the possibilities of a completed, successful project and expressed gratitude for this amazing opportunity to personalize my own home. Then, I met with a longtime friend for a drink and we talked about her amazing year….it has been that long since we sat down to talk to each other.  Marvin….he de-stressed by going to a lecture in the morning and a retirement party in the evening.  Just staying away from the space and thinking about something else was a nice treat. 

Eventually our project will be complete and we will no longer have to retrieve water from the basement. After the dust has settled, the end result should be a beautiful space we can enjoy for years to come. And, thanks to our many friends, our own professional knowledge and team of  trusted colleagues, we are certain to be left with both a return on our dollars in the future and our sense.