"Some Days are Diamonds and Some Days are Stone"

Lauren O'Grady
October 20, 2022

The whole process of planning, designing and building/renovating your custom home will be overwhelming, exciting, frustrating and rewarding. You will have some great days (diamonds) and days that just won’t go to plan (stones). That’s human nature.

Even with the best team with the highest preparation, things can occasionally go pear shaped.

Here’s are 8 tips on how to deal with the Ups and Downs of Building and Renovating.

1.       Choose a team that you feel comfortable with, supported and can trust. Make sure they have a solutions-based mindset, especially for a renovation/extension project. Rather than get angry or frustrated make sure your builder can deal with on site changes calmly and efficiently. Most of the time this comes with builders that are experienced and can think outside the box. This would be a great question to ask past clients when you’re doing your homework on potential builders.

2.      Look at the ways you and your partner deal with highly stressful situations.

I’ve seen all sorts of behaviour on site from clients and trades. Some throw chairs, swear, yell, throw insults around or use the silent treatment. These behaviours are counterintuitive to resolving issues. Crying is very common on site (mainly from females). Hey we’re hormonal and can be sensitive and that’s fine! It is generally at the end of the project when you’re over it and you just want to be in your new home and you’re packing, tired, cleaning, juggling kids, work etc…… yes I’ve been there before many times. Many Homeowner’s work on themselves as part of navigating their project and understand their strengths and weaknesses. You may need to choose your words wisely or change your tone of voice during highly stressful times. We as builders do the same.

3.      Trades do sometimes let the builder down. Sometimes it out of their control (weather and labour/material shortages) but sometimes trades lack appropriate communication tools and they cancel at the last minute or they’re simply not organised for the project. This really gets on our nerves and we are the ones that bear the brunt of it from the clients. Please be mindful of this. Even the best builders who have meticulous planning will occasionally have trades that will let them down. These are generally not their usual trades.

4.      If you choose to live in the house during renovating and/or extending you will have more stone days. Many builders refuse to take on projects where the clients will live in the property during the construction. We are the very few construction companies that will allow you to live in the property (conditions apply). Living in a construction zone is  muddy, cold, dusty, loud, disruptive to cooking, washing, electrical supply and children and pets can find it extremely difficult especially if it’s too dangerous for them to play outside. Life is already busy enough between juggling work, school, after school activities, health and social lives and throw in a renovation can be a recipe for disaster. If you choose to live in these conditions understand it’s not your home you’re living in, it’s a construction zone.

5.       When something doesn’t go as planned don’t bury your head in the sand. As much as difficult conversations are uncomfortable and no one wants to have them, dealing with the issue up front is better than letting resentment fester. The sooner you confront the down time, the quicker the good times will roll around again and trust me, they will!

6.       Cherish the good times! Take photo’s and video’s of the build so you can look back at what you’ve achieved. That moment when you walk into the house and see your new kitchen for the first time or the excited look on your children’s faces when they run into their new bedrooms is heart warming, exhilarating and memorable, Enjoy it!

7.      During Building and Renovating try and live your life as normal. You’ve done all the hard work in planning, designing and choosing your builder and if you’ve chosen correctly you should feel comfortable in handing the control over to the builder and his highly qualified team. Keep up your exercise regime, eat well and sleep as normal. I have seen so many clients stress out, couples at breaking point and families just exhausted from the process. The key here is plan, communicate, document and trust.

8.       Amelia Lee from Undercover Architect runs a program called HOME Method. It’s a structured, step by step approach that simplifies the process of designing, building or renovating your home. It offers advice, coaching (from a highly experienced architect) and a community where you can seek recommendations on all things building related. Having somewhere to go for impartial advice, to bounce off ideas and situations is highly recommended during building and/or renovating.

Everyone will have good and bad days in their projects but it’s the way you navigate these days that matters. I guarantee you, at the completion of the project you will know it was all worth it!

Loz x

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