Is Your Home Due for a Renovation?Oct 23, 2021
Are you an HGTV fan?
Peruse the multiple home makeover shows on their website, and you’ll recognize millions of people are! What’s captivating about watching new floors, cabinets, and fixtures installed? What’s intriguing about fresh paint, updated furniture, and repurposed doors? What’s the big deal about the “big reveal?”
What’s enthralling about a house transformation? Might it be a soul-echo?
What if home-remodeling series were as popular as house-redo shows?
We’ve had glimmers of this. Supernanny, starring Jo Frost as a Mary Poppins and Dr. Phil hybrid, began airing in 2004 and ran for seven seasons on ABC, re-launching in 2020 on the Lifetime network. And if the parameters are stretched wide enough, one could include Wife Swap. (If you’re not familiar with this series, its TV rating is PG, not MA!)
What if instead of watching gleaming new cabinets oust bland aged ones, we watched yawn-inducing dinner conversations replaced with life-inspiring ones? Instead of walls being sledge-hammered to create open rooms we could observe how to remove hurts to craft transparent hearts? Instead of learning how to restore broken mantels we mastered how to rescue busted dreams?
Most people don’t live with outdated wallpaper borders and worn kitchen countertops due to sentimentality. Updating isn’t in the budget. Or on the priority list. They’ll wait until …. the car’s paid off, summer arrives, work slows down, the kids get older, … and years pass. The familiar becomes acceptable. Décor is by default. Maintaining is sufficient.
It’s easy to have the same mindset towards our homes as our houses.
Later – when time allows, when circumstances change, when finances increase, when ___ -- we’ll address that issue, ask that question, have that talk. Share the concern. Schedule the trip. Start the tradition.
Later is a thief.
My love for design and decorating started with sketches of my first childhood dwelling. A rented farmhouse, likely predating the Civil War, was blessed not with insulation but access ports for critters – including the kind that slither. A woodstove provided heat, and trips to the bathroom meant walking (or racing) to an outhouse until -- at last -- an indoor bathroom was added. After my parents built a new house, I planned a renovation of the old two-story white clapboard structure. The owner didn’t consult me, and the dwelling was later demolished and absorbed by surrounding farm fields.
Architecture and design became not my profession but a hobby, sometimes side business. My sons grew up groaning about another trip to the building supply store, decreeing when they became adults, their feet would never again cross into such establishments. The metamorphosis of growing up, however, opened their minds to the necessity, if not nicety, of such places. Mothering and educating these hardware-store rebels became my focus, and in the process, I observed constructing homes and houses has many similarities.
- Design, not desire, decides outcomes.
Love that 42" wide creamy-white porcelain farmhouse sink? Awesome! But standard sinks are 30" and you can't just cram your coveted fixture into a regular cabinet.
If you don’t want the standard, you need a different design.
- Time builds nothing but building takes time.
Hire a contractor to remodel your bathroom, and you'll soon fire him if he only shows up two hours a day. No amount of, "Don't worry. I focus on quality time, not quantity" is going to appease you.
You can’t cram hours of presence into minutes of focus.
- Intentionality, not intensity, delivers success.
A crew hammering feverishly can set many walls. But unless straight studs are selected and framing is squared, serious problems will arise.
Sincerity cannot be substituted for skill without incurring costly repairs.
- Major difficulties begin with minor justifications.
Shrug off the 1/16” gap in the flooring at one corner of a room, and you can find yourself figuring out how to deal with the 1” gap at the diagonal corner.
Excusing the small results in substantial repairs.
- Consequential tasks need experienced crews.
Hiring an electrician apprentice to install light fixtures is reasonable. Having an all-new crew pour footers isn’t.
The more significant the element, the more critical to involve the wise and experienced.
- A secure foundation matters most.
Everything in a house depends on the foundation. Whether concrete, block, stone, or piers are selected, they must be set deeply into the ground to not be dislodged by tides, winds, settlement, or rains.
Only the love of God is strong and sufficient enough to fortify us from cradle to grave.
- Mistakes will happen.
The wrong part will be ordered. A window opening cut 6” too large. The wrong paint color mixed. A door swings to the left instead of the right.
Prepare to discern between vital and desirable, significant and expedient, different and debilitating.
- Inspections aren’t to be feared or avoided but welcomed.
Codes and inspections originated to ensure safety. While there’s legitimate debate about what constitutes reasonable building regulations, most folks agree some level of inspection is beneficial.
Outside eyes can see what familiarity, inexperience, or fatigue obscures.
- Sticking to the plan will be difficult.
Cost overruns are the norm in construction. While reasons vary, a primary factor is a homeowner selecting different materials than those specified in the original bid. This happens one item at a time. An upgraded faucet. An ornate chandelier. A commercial stove. In life, it’s one decision at a time. Temptations and distractions will be constant.
Have a plan on how to stick to the plan.
- Be open to new.
The construction industry isn’t known for an early-adoption mindset. Even when new techniques, tools, and materials are available, there’s little, if any, external pressure to change practices. While the “tried and true” deserves consideration, it shouldn’t demand continuation.
A different perspective or approach might make all the difference.
- Know when it’s DIY (Do-it-yourself) appropriate and CTC (Call-the-contractor) necessary.
It’s not just what one “can” do that counts in deciding what one will do. Just because you can rewire the garage doesn’t mean you should. Maybe this isn’t the best use of your time.
Getting outside help isn’t weakness; it’s responsibility.
- Sometimes the best plan is moving.
The lyrics from David Schlitz’s song made famous in Kenny Roger’s movie, The Gambler, advises, “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, Know when to fold ‘em, Know when to walk away, And know when to run.” Yes, I’m mixing metaphors. But the message is true. There comes a time when a house no longer fits. Children come. They leave. Aged knees no longer handle stairs. Gatherings are limited by space. Renovations and updates to accommodate these changes are too constrained by the house’s current layout, lot size, location, or financial considerations. Homes change too. Some dreams need holding onto; some need letting go. Sometimes you walk away for a while and sometimes you run away for good.
Moving on is not about leaving or quitting. It’s about ownership.
What kind of home make-over might you begin by repurposing the 60 minutes of a house renovation episode? Maybe dinner time needs an overhaul. Mornings need a makeover. Conversations need to be expanded. Attitudes need a transformation. Dreams need revitalizing. Purpose needs renovating. Laughter needs restoring. Kindness needs to become a focal point.
Homes are built just like houses. One plan, one decision, one step at a time. And these last forever.
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