I bought my little cottage on September 18th and in a matter of weeks the DM team had done some drastic renovations. (See here, here and here) I was optimistic and excited for my new home and my new beginning. As I was a pro and had an amazing team behind me, I had little doubt this total gut job would be a piece of cake. Yet something happened in late October, right around the time my home was stripped to its studs; I fell apart.
I don’t know if it was the impending holidays, my own personal fiscal cliff (ie in typical fashion, the renovation budget went thru the roof,) my personal design doubts, or the extent of ungratuitous work that needed to be done, but I lost all joy in the renovation. Buying a house and diving head first into a massive project just two months after ending a long term relationship may have slightly contributed to my state of depression. Looking back now, its all quite clear to me, but at the time I was surprised and upset with myself that I couldn’t enjoy the process.
1- I could look up at my kitchen ceiling and see my empty bathroom
2- Brand new plumbing pipes and electrical wiring inside my kitchen ceiling
3- Blown-in Insulation will keep my cottage cozy
4- My new 200-amp electrical panel was an expensive but necessary addition
It just seemed like each time I visited the cottage more things were torn apart. Weeks would pass, walls would come down, we would break to work on real (paying) projects, then come back and tear more things apart. My dad was amazing throughout the whole process. He re-wired the entire house (as in every single wire in the house,) and meticulously ran all of the duct work to avoid awkward bumps and soffits. (He knew his decorator daughter would just about die over an unsightly bump-out.) He was patient and loving in the way only a father can be as I changed my mind, added work, fretted over details and kept hounding him for a move-in date.
My dad took such pride in transforming my 100-year-old cottage into a mechanically new home. He would excitedly show me my new plumbing pipes and I would feel like a terrible bitch that I couldn’t even fake half his enthusiasm. I was ok with feeling depressed- I believe we need to experience lows to appreciate our highs- but it killed me to think he might feel I wasn’t grateful for all his hard work. I understood that important stuff goes on behind the walls and floors to make a solid home but it didn’t feel like it would ever come together. People would ask me about the house progress and I would feel further guilt that I wasn’t more excited. I was sick of the hard work; I just wanted my happy ending.
1 I thought demolition was over, but then I decided to remove the dividing wall up in the 3rdfloor
2 A fancy high efficiency air conditioner was built into the eaves of my roof
3 My dad surprised me by ripping open a wall in my master bedroom.
He saw more space- I saw more mess.
4 Ceilings were torn down and walls were built to accommodate my HVAC Ducts
But throughout the whole process I had faith. Faith it would get better and faith I would feel better. It started slowly- first it was the stairs, and then it was the bathroom tile. Now I’m happy to report that my cottage renovation is moving along at super speed. In the past couple of weeks I’ve gotten drywall and wood floors and now it’s time to start thinking about scheduling movers. I’m surprised that we have gone from tedious to transformed so quickly and amused that I suddenly feel so patient and zen with the process. As for myself, I feel fantastic. I’m so hopeful and excited to begin my life here. I’m ready to take on my next challenge- decorating- but I also don’t feel rushed or stressed to get it done.
I know this mechanical stuff isn’t the prettiest, but it was such an essential part of the process that I wanted to share it with you before we get to the fancy Afters. Next week, stay tuned for some big changes.
This post is dedicated to my father. A man who cares about the things you don’t see and will always go over and above the call of duty for his family.
I Love you, Dad.
Me and Dad, around 30 years ago.
TIPS TO AVOID CONSTRUCTION DEPRESSION
- Plan thoroughly ahead of time. Making changes mid-construction increases stress and delays the job
- Have a job calendar. Knowing a timetable helps you manage your expectations
- Communicate with your contractor. I was able to discuss all ideas and doubts with my dad and that made the process much easier.
- Have a retreat. If you are staying in the house during the reno, plastic off a room where you can escape from the dust and the mess.
- Don’t get hung up on the _____. Things will go wrong or not be exactly as you imagined. Flexibility is essential in staying sane.
- Wine or whatever your preferred poison is makes everything better.
- Don’t renovate a house to get over heartbreak. Or do, if you must, but it won’t be easy.