If you’re doing a major build or renovation, there’s a really awkward moment you’d better brace yourself for. It is supposed to be the dream moment: the official unveiling to friends and family of your freshly completed project.
Oh for sure. You can already visualise how it’s going to go. It’s a Saturday afternoon and the last lick of paint has dried to a perfect gloss finish. Your friends arrive on the dot and as they do the grand tour they comment on the very clever design and thinking. Knowledgeable types, those who have completed renovation projects of their own, will examine closely the little details: the fit and the finish. And they’ll marvel. You of course will bask in a kind of stoic, silent pride.
I can tell you right now, your gala event runs a horrible risk of turning to custard.
The problem with building and renovation projects is that they are way more detailed than any mere mortal can imagine. This isn’t Lego. Here are some of the things that can go wrong and cause delays. I report these from personal experience.
The knotty problem.
Every project has a knotty problem that never showed up on the plans. We have a drawer that doesn’t open unless you bark your knuckles on an adjacent window frame. On the plans this clash never appeared because the drawers appeared on one elevation, and the window on another. We had a bath installed beautifully, until the plumber asked: how am I going to get to the sump if there’s ever a blockage? How indeed? These weren’t big problems, but you end up lifting tiles and working out structural solutions long after the project is supposed to enter the final finishing stage. Their discovery is timed to clash with your social calendar.
The exotic and unusual.
We live in a world of choice, but it turns out that those gorgeous and rather unique Spanish fittings you ordered for the bathroom have an unusual widget that doesn’t connect to the plumbing in quite the usual way. And there’s a washer missing from packet. It won’t arrive for your Saturday. It will arrive once the next container load is cleared through customs. Next April.
If you need wet weather to dig up the garden or to do your landscape planting, there shall be a drought. When you need dry weather to paint your house extension, it shall rain. These things are just laws of life. And in related breaking news: if you have tarpaulins up for any reason, then a hurricane is expected with heavy lashing rain.
In the showroom they told you that this model was Consumer tested and the most reliable on the market. “It’ll last years,” said the salesman. Yet when it is installed, as was our rangehood, we found it hardly went at all. Turbo on the rangehood was more like Whisp-o-vent. It looks great, but it needs replacement.
No matter how clear your instructions, no matter how many months notice you give them to connect the phones or bring broadband to your lounge, they run a strong chance of screwing things up. In our case their linesman had connected all the appropriate cables to our house but the people who actually activate these lines had no record that he’s done so. It was lost in their system, and judging by their call centres, this meant that our details were somewhere – somewhere – on planet earth.
So when should you officially introduce your friends to your hard work and sacrifice? Do you wait until everything is just so? No way. Every new house has teething problems. Be humble, show your friends around, point out the hole in the Gib board and share your crisis stories. They’ll love your work – and love your humility. Its win win.
You might be interested in reading about Christine and Roger's experience renovating their townhouse
This column by Duncan Stuart featured on page 118 in Issue 008 of Renovate Magazine. Renovate Magazine is an easy to use resource providing fresh inspiration and motivation at every turn of the page.
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