This is the first of a multi-part blog about communication and conflict management during a remodel of my kitchen, during COVID, with a cat and a dog, in a small house with 2 adults.
Ask anyone about their experience with remodeling and you will get a variety of responses. None of which will be “best experience ever!”.
We bought our 1923 home 3 ½ years ago. Super charming. Super cute. Super impractical for our lifestyle. The location was what really sold us as well as the bright yellow shingles and steep bungalow roof line. It was not about the kitchen. We love to cook and the kitchen was woefully inadequate. It had the original 1923’s cabinets including the ventilation holes in the cupboards for root storage. I knew a remodel was in the future. I created designs and had mental fantasies about the possibilities. I even had 3 contractors come out and give me estimates. Those estimates quickly put a damper on my fantasies.
2020 was the year of all years, at least for this generation. For us, it was finally time to remodel and apparently everyone else isolated at home thought the same thing. Planning for the remodel began in late summer of 2020 and the first hammer was swung the second week of 2021.
A remodel is stressful. Period. Yet, you can manage the stress by being proactive and putting into place conflict management strategies. The most important is to recognize that there are key relationships that a remodel entails. Communication is absolutely key with your contractor(s), family members, neighbors, and workplace. We aren't always at our best when there is disruption at home. Planning upfront as much as possible is the first step. Second is addressing issues when they arise and not ignoring them.
Family and Household Members
First, check-in with your family members. Reality check if this is really a good time to embark on having your home disrupted for 4, 8, 12 weeks or more. During COVID, we are home working, schooling, entertaining, and eating. If everyone is in the midst of work and school with no alternatives to relocate, this may not be the best time.
Next, come up with agreements for your household on how you will all communicate. Ground rules are a good tool to keep everyone on the same page. "Be kind to each other" and "assume positive intent" are 2 agreements that have helped us weather the process. We also agreed that I would solely communicate with the general contractor to avoid micromanaging and misinformation. And recognizing that our home was a worksite between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm during the week, also helped us mentally prepare for and accept the disruption.
Create and Post Family Agreements
Write down your family agreements and post where everyone can see them. This is a living document that can be added to and amended as your needs change. Get everyone involved in the agreement creation and be creative!
Link here to see our Family Agreements
Next blog: making the commitment to move forward and working with vendors.
Sunny E. Sassaman Conflict Management and Dispute Resolution Consultant