So you want to add on a room?
If architects and builders ever begin designing homes especially configured to allow additional rooms to be added easily, the world will beat a path to their door. In the meantime, if you are contemplating adding a room onto your home, you might want to lie down and see if the feeling passes. If it doesn’t, read on.
Several years ago we added a dining room, laundry room, master bedroom, master bath and expanded the family room in our home. If we had to do it all over again, we would still add on, but there definitely are things we would do differently.
The one sanctuary we had from the chaos of the outside world was suddenly transformed into a scene from Escape from New York. Despite our best efforts, dust and dirt were everywhere. Strangers move freely about the house. The noise began early and ran throughout the day. The project took much longer and cost more than even our worst case scenario.
Despite all the contractor’s assurances that “everything will turn out fine,” we got pretty nervous when he began taking down a supportive wall. Meanwhile, the bricklayer had finished the new wall but did not feather the new bricks into the old as we instructed. The old bricks were on bottom, and the new bricks were on top.
He said, “No one will see this side of the house anyway.” My wife reminded him that it wasn’t his house, we would see it and that we were signing the checks. He removed the brick but left in a huff, and we did not see him for two days.
The roofer sent one person to put on the new shingles. Two days later, the progress was insignificant. After several telephone calls, the roofer sent a full crew to do the job. They finished the shingles that day but did not have time to tack down the three new skylights, which were merely laid over the large holes of our roof.
Dark clouds on the horizon were our first indication of trouble to come. A Texas blue norther was approaching rapidly. A tornado watch was issued. We were two nervous homeowners. As the wind howled, it lifted the skylights and set them gently down elsewhere on the roof. Then the rain began.
We called our roofer and suggested that he get his wait-until-tomorrow-to-do-it-right butt over to our house and install the skylights permanently before everything floated away. Luckily for us and him, plastic protective sheeting still covered the existing carpet and furniture.
The point of all this is to say that remodeling is traumatic, and you should be prepared to cope with it. Humor helps. Just remember that someday you will be able to laugh about your adventures, entertain your neighbors with your that’s-nothing-wait-till-you-hear-what-happened-to-us stories. Who knows? Maybe you can write about them in a newspaper.
Experts urge women to find a way to be coolly assertive when they have a difference of opinion with remodeling professionals, who are usually male.
“Don’t let your emotional reactions get in the way,” says Lois B. Morris writing for homestore.com. “Step back, take a deep breath, and just say no. Try to express your thoughts, not the emotion.”
For men, Morris says underlying competitive, control issues tend to heat up things fast. Back off, take time out and come back to the problem later with a cooler head, he says.
“Get away,” suggest Lois Nightingale, a clinical psychologist in California. “Clear your mind. Rejuvenate. Feed the ducks at the park, work out at the gym, take a meditation class. If you can, take a minivacation or get away for the weekend.
Experts urge homeowners to remain flexible. It’s one thing to fantasize about the ultimate dream home and something else to create it, especially by remodeling. Have options. The more adamant you are about a specific outcome, the greater the potential disappointment.
Many problems can be avoided with a frank homeowner-contractor discussion before work begins. For example, you should work out how much say you want to have in each stage of the project. Who makes the decisions? And what happens if there’s a difference of opinion or something isn’t working out?
What should you expect from your remodeler? Writing for homestore.com, David Lupberger lists four important remodeler characteristics that go far in soothing a homeowner’s fears:
• Consistency. Remodelers should set and follow a consistent routine.
• Honesty. You should be told what will happen each week, and the contractor should acknowledge any mistakes.
• Dependability. Remodelers will make you many promises. They should keep them.
• Reassurance. Your remodeler should answer your questions and address your concerns – before, during and after the project.
As for me, I hope there are no more major remodeling projects in my future. But if there are, I think my wife and I will move into a hotel for the duration. We’ll be happier and so will the contractors.
Contributed by David S. Jones, reprinted with permission from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.
© Julie Nelson and The Nelson Project at Keller Williams Reatly, 2008-2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Julie Nelson and The Nelson Project at Keller Williams Realty with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.