Recently my husband and I added a third floor to our home.  We moved everything we needed for five months down to the first floor.  We slept in our living room on a mattress.  I had a clothes rack hanging in the room with other necessities squirreled away in plastic bins and boxes.

Various people were in and out every day – plumbers, electricians, carpenters and painters.  At one point it started to rain in the kitchen, due to a leaky toilet unrelated to the construction.  At other points we showered at a local health club, as there was no water.  I learned a lot about patience during the process and came up with some tips for your consideration.

Tip 1:  Find another way.  There were times we couldn’t use the front door, shower at home, access the internet, find our stuff, or follow any sort of routine.  These disruptions initially caused stress.  Rather than get stuck in the stress and fight against it, we accepted what was happening and practiced finding a new way to accomplish what we wanted to do.  There is always another approach.

Tip 2:  Someone else’s agenda.  We have a wonderful contractor who coordinated the whole project.  I didn’t always understand the order of construction.  What I learned is – I didn’t have to.  If you’ve got competent people in your organization and you’ve given them the resources they need to get the project done, let them set their own agenda.  As a leader, you can bog down a process by insisting on being involved and informed of every little detail.

Tip 3:  Let go of control.  I have my days planned and know what I need to get done.  There are days when something unexpected happens and all the planning in the world doesn’t help.  On those days, I learned to let go of the control and tell myself, nothing is going to get done today!  Letting go of control reduced the stress of the moment, I could think much clearer without fighting the inevitable.

Tip 4:  Leave it up to the professionals.  Two weeks before our project was scheduled to be completed, the house was still in chaos.  My first reaction was to have a meeting with the contractor and quiz him on how everything was going to be completed on time.  I made a conscious decision to trust the process and keep my mouth shut.  (Not easy for me).  He had it all planned with the appropriate people lined up.  Sometimes not saying a thing can be the best strategy of all.

Tip 5:  Find the humor.  I work from home most days.  I could hear a lot of noise during the day.  When I needed to use the phone, I would sit in my car.  I changed clothes in the kitchen.  Often a radio would be playing with Spanish music, those working would also be singing with the music.  It was a great reminder of what people enjoying their work sounded like.  When I went to a meeting, I would think about the process of getting ready and the environment that I left – it made me smile every time.

A special thanks goes to Peter – our contractor, Brian – our foreman, Antonio – our painter and all the other wonderful people who took such pride and care in constructing and creating our new home.

Have you ever gone through a remodel?  What have you learned from the process?  What can you apply to your every day life?  Leave a comment below.

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4 Responses to Patience!

  • Great post, Holly, and very accurate as I’ve watched you go through this. I have either a Tip 6 or a corollary to Tip 3 – Let Go of Control, and that is: “Expect the Unexpected. Sometimes something major shows up out of the blue comes up and threatens to disrupt the process, timeline and everything else (you know what I’m referring to). Just stay patient and trust the process.

  • Holly, my wife and I had our kitchen completely remodeled last year. During this period, we had our refrigerator, dishes, microwave oven, food, etc., in the living room, and we washed our dishes in the bathroom sink. Having been on the business side of several software-development lifecycles, I reminded myself daily, “The business client defines the WHY (more sales, better customer care, etc.) and the WHAT (the business requirements). The development group defines the HOW (the technical requirements, high-level design, and detailed design) and actually creates the system.” I put my wife and me in the position of the business client, and I put the kitchen-makeover general contractor in the position of the development group. By our focusing on the WHAT and letting our contractor focus on the HOW, we ended up with a beautiful, functional kitchen in the end and minimal stress (for us, anyway) along the way!

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