As I was reviewing the last 2 months, I realized that a remodeling project has characteristics of the grief stages. And here is how it played out for us...
First stage: Denial
A project, such as a kitchen remodel generally includes a level of optimism:
“It won’t be that bad.” “It’s not gonna really take 4-6 weeks.” “Our experience will be superior from what others experienced.” “It won’t cost us more.” “It’s not that big of a deal to be without a kitchen for a few weeks. Heck, I can lose some weight!” “Nothing will go wrong.”
Second stage: Anger
As denial becomes less realistic, stronger feelings of frustration manifest into anger. Thoughts of how inconvenient this remodel really is -- what was I thinking?? Feelings of concern about the focus of the contractor and their skill level – do they know what they are doing?? Shorter tempers around family members – why can’t we just be nicer to each other??? Concerns about money turn into a worry about being able to afford the project.
Stage 3: Bargaining
In this stage, we begin to cling to the threads of hope that it will be okay if we just do this or that. That we have some control over the situation. Examples include:
The process will start to pick up and lost time will be made up; that if they just do this one thing then everything will fall into place; if I’m patient, I can be cooking by the end of the week; that if I respond quickly and make everything as “comfortable” as possible for the workers, it will be better.
Stage 4: Depression
This is when you realize you have no control and that completion is many small steps away. At this point, you are feeling tired and anxious. Every habit has been interrupted and if you typically work from home, you feel doubly displaced. During COVID, options for places to be during the day are extremely limited. Stage 4 is a very dark place during a remodel.
Stage 5: Acceptance
The best way to move out of Depression is to get to Acceptance. Because a remodel wasn't enough, Mother Nature decided to show her force causing a snowstorm and power outage over several days. On the day that we were sitting in the shell of our home with no heat and no kitchen, we were at a low point. So low that the first day we had power returned, the GC called and asked if the flooring could start being removed the very next day. Our life was so disrupted at that point, that we just went with it. This actually became a turning point for us in the grief process. We moved much of the first floor furniture out to our already full garage in a matter of a few hours. At this point, we were limited to the unheated garage and our small upstairs space. This was no small feat with a dog and cat also in the mix. We knew that this was a key point in the project and that after the challenges we’d already endured, we could do this one last thing to get us closer to our goal.
Acceptance brought our family some peace and more kindness towards each other. Anxiety was still prevalent but it no longer controlled our thoughts and actions. If you are considering a remodel, everything I listed in the Denial phase was exactly denial. The key to feeling some control is good communication and kindness. Communication with your GC where expectations are clear and next steps are shared is helpful. If you try to read your GC's mind, you're gonna get frustrated. As will your GC if you expect him to do the same with you. Have conversations upfront and often. Demonstrate appreciation and acknowledgement for work well done. Communicate disappointment and needs directly and professionally. A box of donuts or lunch for the crew can be a nice way to say "thank you", too.
#westlandhomeconstruction #remodeling #communication #kindness #conflictmanagement #5stagesofgrief
Sunny E. Sassaman Conflict Management and Dispute Resolution Consultant