The Big P Word


You're beginning a remodel.  Like how I made that sound all sarcastic and stuff?  The amazing things you can do with punctuation these days (though I have a feeling Hemingway or Scott or the Apostles figured it out long before I). Pour yourself a drink and have a seat.  You see, having a remodel is like having a child and then compressing the 18 years (or 22 if you were my parents) into one three to five month long process. There's always a big mess, random crap shoved in the weirdest of places, and your sex life practically disappears. And that isn't even the worst of your problems.  I'm sure you think you've thought of them all - how you're going to pay for it, who's going to do the work, which divorce attorney you're going to keep on speed dial.  But I bet you forgot the big one.

Privacy. The Big P Word.

I see you grimacing, being very aware that you might be watched.  By watched I mean your home is going to be a virtual whore house of construction activity and there will be no fewer than a minor-league baseball team's worth of people coming in and out of your home.  Didn't think of that did you?

On Friday, over a bottle glass of wine I discussed expectations with new clients, prepping them for the remodel of their 1920's bungalow.  Let me just say that this couple is awesome. Before I'd parked the car, they had a bottle of wine un-corked, poured and ready for me (they could have stuck a straw in the bottle and I would have been fine too, I'm not picky). Even better, they understand my obscure movie references. Maybe it was the wine, maybe they are just a little kooky like me (are you reading this Rob?).  But ultimately the conversation hit on The Money Pit.  For those of you that don't know, The Money Pit should be a must watch for every remodel virgin. It's like watching the one botched pregnancy movie doctors (and veteran mothers) urge you to watch before you actually give birth (except by the time you're watching said movie you can't back out... you can try but try carrying a teenageer in your womb!). Tom Hanks, Shelley Long, and one HELL of a remodel. Yes, it's every adult's scary campfire story (right up there with "Hair grows where?" and "Taxes").

Just to refresh, there is a scene in which Shelley Long's character opens her medicine cabinet and the contractor on the OUTSIDE of the house hands her birth control pills, warning her that she's almost out. Yeah... it can get like that. Like seriously.

Don't like that idea?  Did I paint a really bad picture in your head (like when you caught mom and dad... um... dancing)?  Then read on.....

Move Out

This is one of the easiest ways to ensure privacy (and sanity) during a remodel.  Seriously though, if you either a) can't stand the sight of plumber's crack or b) your remodel is so big that you will not have walls during part of the process, get out of there.  Pack your things and find a Ho-Jos or a Four Seasons.  For your convenience here is the Four Seasons reservations page.

[caption id="attachment_216" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="If this is your house during renovation. Get out."][/caption]

Ok, so you've decided to reside in your construction hell project. I understand.  Hotels aren't everyone's cup of tea and you probably have an uncle's best-friend's cousin that has a pretty big divide at the top end of his jeans.  Or you're just into S&M and your wife is really a dominatrix.  Meow.

Set Boundaries and Expectations Before Starting Construction

Ignorance is bliss.  Well, not for you of course.  Before you start construction, sit down with your contractor and make up set some rules.  Before rather than during construction is the best time to do this.  Discuss hours (no construction before 8am, forget Saturdays, yoga time is at noon and mats are not provided), boundaries (stay out of the trophy room), and expectations.  And by all means, please ask questions.  The stupid question is the one that goes un-asked (or any question asked of Ms. Cleo).

Make a Schedule and Stick to it

This ties in with setting boundaries.  Time things like showers, meals, and laundry around your construction schedule.  If you're awake, showered, and dressed before the contractor arrives at eight am, then you're sure not to have any Who's the Boss moments.

Designate a "No Construction Zone"

Important!  Sit down with your contractor and give him the No Play Zones. Let him know which areas of the house are off-limits.  Plainly mark them with Do Not Enter signs and if you must, temporarily change out doorknobs with locks (your bathroom should have one already!).  I especially encourage you to make a space somewhere for yourself and your family.  Make this a space where you can relax after work, prepare your meals, watch porn....

Give Contractors Their Own Facilities 

Everyone needs their own potty space.  You need one.  Your contractor (and his subs) will need one.  I'm sure you don't want your contractor combing through your drawers and finding the medicated itch pads or tampons or prescription for that case of herpes you got during a random trip to Vegas (and they say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas). The key?  Separate facilities. If you're lucky enough to have more than one bathroom (and the other one isn't being renovated) give your guys a facility of their own.  If a second bathroom isn't available, splurge on a bright blue Port-A-Potty.  You don't need to put out potpourri and guest towels but at least you know that you won't have to worry about a "Sorry ma'am" moment.

*Side note, if you do order a Port-A-Potty for your trades, please be aware of your neighbors.  There seriously is nothing worse than that familiar odor wafting from a neighbor's construction activity.*

Relocate the Skeletons

Storage Units and Safe Deposit Boxes exist for this very purpose.  Worried that your electrician might find the Playboys?  Your flooring contractor might dig up boxes of love letters from old girlfriends?  Gain a little piece of mind and just get them out of the house entirely.  Lock up the important secrets in a 9x9 at the Self Storage and worries be gone.

Had enough?  I'm sorry to have scared you.  I'm only looking out for your well being.