There’s no doubt that repairing a house is worthwhile but the amount of stress it produces can be overwhelming. Having just moved from a newer four bedroom colonial to a smaller (and older) Cape Cod style house, house repair has been a reality for the last five weeks. Here are some simple ways to lessen the stress of working on a home:
Doing it yourself might not be the answer. If money is tight, then doing some projects yourself makes perfect sense. On the other hand, if you are a 5 out of 10 on the handy-meter, a complex project might add more stress than it’s worth. Know your limits.
Work alongside a pro. Ask in advance if the contractor would mind if you shadow him for a few hours each day so that you can learn some tricks and skills. From tiling to laying down flooring, a contractor can show you the ropes in no time.
Watch the big rocks. In my “new” house, two areas have been shouting for attention: electrical and plumbing. For big ticket items like these, you’ll want to hire someone who knows what they’re doing. Just as electrical current is not something to play around with, over-tightening that new kitchen sink is also a bad idea and can cause added stress down the road.
Anticipate delay. Even the best contractor faces delays. Weather, other open projects that need attention and anything else that can pop up will during your house repair. If he tells you that it will take four days, add two more and you won’t be surprised when the project lags on.
Treat yourself. If your kitchen is being redone and you’ll be out of a sink for a week, why not treat yourself to dinner out every other night as a way of counter-balancing the stress of being without the hub of your home? Build the expense of eating out into your repair budget and you won’t feel so guilty when ordering at your favorite restaurant.
Avoid entertaining. While it’s nice to have folks stop by to see the project in its various stages, entertaining is another matter. Even a visit from the best of friends will create stress, not to mention the added work of picking things up and preparing a meal. An alternative might be to meet them at a local park for a picnic or going out to eat at your favorite hangout.
Get into the mind of your contractor. Just because you may be a neat-freak doesn’t mean that your carpenter is one. Try to get into the head of the person you’ve hired so that you can understand his lifestyle and approach to things. Remember too that his standards of “finish work” may be different from yours so state your expectations and repeat them with respect and tact.
Be nice to those you hire. Nothing eases a project like getting along with those who are spending vast amounts of time in your house. Offering a cold drink on a hot day, coffee in the morning or a newspaper at lunch can go a long way.
Drop a few hints. To keep things moving along and to get more out of the process, drop a few positive hints, promising a referral for the contractor or letting him know how nice the new backsplash looks. You might also walk him around to other someday/maybe projects that you have been thinking of.
Mike St. Pierre hosts The Daily Saint, a productivity blog focusing on work-life balance. www.thedailysaint.com