Renovation Roller Coaster

Have you ever strapped yourself on a roller coaster and within moments asked yourself “Why?!!”

Why does anyone willingly subject themselves to sheer terror? The appeal is somewhat a mystery. Here’s the point though: Roller Coasters are meant to be terrifying. Expecting less is unwise.

Meet Takabisha , the world's steepest roller coaster. Located in Japan, this machine moves from 0-60 in less than 2 seconds going down at 121° grade for 141 feet. Translation: Terrifying!  

Imagine boarding Takabisha convinced this was a calm, gentle ride. You tell yourself Takabisha is like a horse-drawn carriage moving through a serene countryside at a predictable pace. You feel confident a courteous tour guide is included. Someone to periodically explain the landscape around you.

Those expectations would be obliterated in the screaming chaos of Takabisha!

Major renovations and roller coasters share some common characteristics. Excitement can quickly turn to terror if you’re uncertain how the ride goes, and especially how it ends.

The key to enjoying a major renovation is knowing what to expect. A good contractor sets clear expectations before starting, and communicates regularly throughout the process. The customer never feels “jerked around” regarding the project’s timeline or outcome.   

Here’s an overview of common emotional ups and downs during a renovation.

1. The design phase (UP) – At least it’s where a renovation should start. Skipping this first step could be disastrous. Creating a well-thought-out design ensures everyone is on the same page.  The outcome is clearly defined. Otherwise you’re on a roller coaster launching out into the unknown.

Plus there’s low stress and high delight visualizing and designing possibilities. 

2. Workable Drawings (DOWN slightly, but quickly back UP) – As you go through this phase you may experience a few frustrations as details are analyzed and discussed. Once everything is clarified you’re back on a high note, and should be feeling very confident about proceeding to the next phase. 

3. Bidding the Project & Agreeing to a Contract (DOWN)  - The process takes a big drop here if your contractor wasn’t involved in the design phase. The bidding/pricing get’s dicey, and you quickly realize general contractors come in all different varieties. Some will offer great pricing, but you wonder about the quality. Others offer extreme quality, but you wonder about the affordability.

Skipping this stage all together is preferable. Taking a Design-Build approach makes it possible. A Design-Build renovation has the contractor involved from the start.

4. Construction Begins (UP)– High levels of excitement characterize this phase. Visible progress is happening. Seeing this progress typically makes the customer very happy! The speed of Demolition and Rough Framing makes the customer feel they’re on HGTV. That fantasy doesn’t last long though.

5. Rough – Ins (Down dramatically) - Plumbing, heating, electrical and insulation trades all get involved at this stage and production slows way down. Frustrations begin to surface as the customer starts to feel their home has been “under construction” way too long. These frustrations are minimized by a good project manager who keeps the trades moving efficiently and the customer clearly informed.

6. Hanging/Sanding Drywall (Down further) – This might very well be rock bottom on the renovation roller coaster. (Call it “sheet rock bottom”.)  The customer still hasn’t seen the beautiful progress they expected, and their patience is usually wearing thin about now. Might feel like the ride has stalled, but rest assured progress is happening.

7. Trim & Cabinet to Painting (Up) – Finally traces of true craftsmanship are seen. The customer is able to visualize the end product. Emotions improve dramatically through this stage.

8. Punch List complete (Up higher) – Emotions continue to rise as the end is only a few simple steps away.

9. Move In (Up higher still and coasting to a gentle stop) – Relief and celebration occur. After seeing the finished product the customer quickly forgets all frustration. Now the outlook is bright and cheerful. Only one thing left to do. Enjoy the newly renovated space for years to come!

The takeaway: If you plan to ride the renovation roller coaster, ride responsibly. Choose a contractor able to ensure the level of quality, service, and calm you expect. Choose someone who will provide a clear path to completion, while minimizing stress and frustration along the way.