Yesterday marked 20 weeks since our addition / remodel began. TWENTY. Before the project began, I had visions of updating my blog frequently with the progress of our home. I imagined blog posts detailing each new step as if I were taking in a breath of fresh air. Instead, it has been a slow, agonizing process. Work has been slow with weeks at a time with no workers showing up. Our project is being managed by three different people with no one really “owning” it, and all the while our family is cooped up in a very small amount of living space trying to keep homework and school projects organized, celebrate life’s milestones and maintain some sort of normalcy in a space that is packed with extra furniture and the like that used to reside in the part of our home under construction.
I guess the main reason I haven’t written is because I feel helpless and no one wants to write about feeling helpless. Heck, no one wants to read about being helpless… or the fact that my family is living in chaos… or that we are all stressed out to the max… or that my kids want to kill each other. Ugh. No one… But, then I thought that maybe I should write about our experience so that other families going through (and living in) major construction projects know they aren’t alone.
When you hand over your project to a contractor, you basically hand over control of your home and enter into a dance of relying on another person (or several persons) who basically controls how long you live in the squalor, anticipation and worry. If they aren’t in a hurry, have a lot of other jobs or aren’t responsive to requests, you have to decide how to “navigate” the relationship. Do you complain occasionally, bug them daily or stay quiet? And if you complain, what is “so bad” that it is worth complaining about? And, if you complain to much, will they work slower because they are upset with you, faster because they want to be done with you or walk away because they are sick of you? And, if they work faster, will the work be poor because they never want to see your face/house ever again? There are so many “what-ifs” surrounding your most valuable asset and your living conditions that you virtually become at the mercy of your contractor, their kindness and their professionalism. (And you get a bit paranoid.) We have felt helpless–beyond helpless. Perhaps it is a “glass-half-empty” mentality, but with every issue that has come up, whether it’s weeks on end without workers showing up or walls in the wrong place, we have anguished over the idea of complaining because of the fear that they will walk away or not work as hard at providing us with top-quality construction. I mean think about it: it’s one thing to complain about bad customer service at a store, because what are they going to do to you personally? Nothing! Complain about the guys building your house and maybe they decide to not built is as well or with less attention to detail. This is our house for goodness sakes! At times, the helplessness has led to anxiety that our kids have even picked up on.
To be clear, a bulk of the problems with our remodel have been based upon a lack of communication and supervision. I work from home, which means I’m around for all of the construction. My husband and I have basically become the “foremen” on the job–answering questions for workers (who choose to ask questions, many just do the work and don’t ask questions, which later means things are done wrong and *sometimes* are fixed and *sometimes* are not). No one has ever offered to meet with us to answer questions, and typically the only time a foreman is here is at our request–and this is after we have a full page of typed questions that are rushed through for an hour or less so they can get to their more important, larger jobs.
My husband has confronted our construction team in the past, asking if they could PLEASE communicate with us more. We were assured this would happen, but it didn’t. He confronted them again, this time in a more calm manner and has made some time demands to hopefully get the project done by Thanksgiving, five weeks from now. We shall see if this last, very earnest conversation has made any impact as we move forward next week, and hopefully begin to make up for the more than 30 no-show days we’ve already experienced.
Because my husband demanded it (and we hadn’t had an inspection since July), we are set for an inspection of the framing, electrical, plumbing, subfloor and HVAC on Monday. Fingers crossed!