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Remodel highs and lows

Emotions013_2Remodeling is an emotional endeavor. The very thing that keeps you safe and centered — your happy home — is turned into a dusty, chaotic, noisy jobsite. On top of that, you’re asked to make decisions on colors and materials that you will have to live with for a long time. The combined stress is beyond belief.

What contractors know that most homeowners don’t is that the peaks and valleys of a homeowner’s emotional state are predictable. As you can see by this graph (click to enlarge), created by construction consultant David Lupberger, emotions are high during the design stage, low during the contract-signing stage, high through demolition (“We’re finally getting started!”) and framing, then take a long, long decline through drywall, plumbing and electrical. Happily, they start to rise again as the finish work begins.

Even when you know about this normal rollercoaster of emotions, it’s not easy to live through. And it’s not easy for your contractor to deal with emotional clients. And yet most remodelers say are in this business — rather than in more-profitable commercial or new construction — precisely because they enjoy the personal connection. Go figure.

Even when everything goes perfectly, and all the subs show up on time, and the materials show up without damage, and the inspections are timely, there are still ups and downs in emotions. One North Hollywood couple I interviewed started out so happy with their one-month kitchen remodel. And even though every single thing went right, they were stressed out and angry at the two-week mark. They were sick of having people in their house, they said, and sick of eating out.

Contractors know homeowners will be emotional. Lupberger gives seminars at contractor conferences called Managing the Emotional Homeowner, based on his book of the same name. I’ve been to these seminars and they are packed.

After the rollercoaster of a remodel, the best thing you can say to your contractor is this: “We love you, now get out of here.”

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