What makes home improvement a daunting prospect?

What makes home improvement a daunting prospect?

I was recently reading Andy McNab’s bestselling account of his experience of commanding an SAS mission into Iraq in 1991. The aim was to aid in overthrowing Saddam Hussein’s regime. Bravo Two Zero depicts how the troop were ‘compromised’ leading to McNab’s eventual capture and interrogation. Illustrations such as this paint a horror that thankfully the majority of us will never experience. I found it incredible that even in his worst moments he was able to find comfort in something as simple as four walls and minimal warmth. We take this simple luxury for granted every day and forget how much stability we gain from having a place to go back to.

When we have a place to call home this holds even greater significance. We have invested our time, money and love into creating an environment that brings us security and peace of mind.

Most of us seek to improve our homes from adding furnishings, to building extensions that require skilled tradespeople to create. For many, the idea of allowing someone to come into your personal space, let alone alter it on your behalf, can be a daunting prospect. The trust a customer places in skilled tradespeople shouldn’t be underestimated.

From the outset of a project, a customer is trusting that the quote will be an honest one. Quotes that vary greatly and in most cases this is due to tradespeople having different day rates and covering off contingencies, or extras with a buffer built in. It isn’t unusual to find that a customer hasn’t done any research and has no real idea of what their project should cost. Often Bill down the pub has given them a steer on an extension he heard about once. Either way – a quote that is higher than the client was expecting may make them feel concerned “Am I being over charged?”

Once you feel assured that your vision is understood and you can meet the delivery price, you can prepare yourself for what this (hopefully) nice intrusion into your sanctuary will involve. Will the decorator move everything and cover everything up? Will they turn up on time?

What if the project is bigger and requires limiting or lack of access to a kitchen or bathroom?

We can eat takeaways and cook on our camping stove tends to wear thin after the first week. Showering at the gym and flushing the toilet with a bucket of water quickly becomes a drama at 2am when your partner has failed to refill it. Tradespeople that understand these frustrations prepare your expectations before the job starts. Updates on schedules to let you know that your ‘over the worst of it’ and ‘you’ll see it come together in the next couple of days’ can make a massive difference to the atmosphere on site.

It seems obvious to note that any major renovation requires demolition before installation. As the anecdote states – you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. Knowing this and dealing with the reality can be very different when you’re living it. Some customers revel in the old kitchen being on the driveway by lunch. For others coming home to a house that looks like it’s been through the blitz can be a truly frightening prospect. ‘How can this ever be put right?’ Again, a little reassurance and talking through the next steps goes a long way.

Dust is the protagonist of any renovation project. It can be limited, but rarely eliminated. Air flow in any house is required to stop damp occurring and refreshing the stagnant air we breathe. As a result, it’s almost impossible to stop dust particles travelling all around your house. Taking this in your stride and remembering it’s a temporary by-product of improving your home will help you manage your own sanity.

Extras can become a ‘double edged sword’. An accommodating tradesperson will strive to meet your requests, but remember – they are still in the process of delivering what was agreed at the start. If you don’t keep track of these changes (and their costs) your budget could spiral beyond its limits and lead to a nasty shock that taints the job’s conclusion. The responsibility for accounting for these additions can be hotly debated. “You should have told me what it cost!” Or “I have produced everything you asked for!”

Whether a working relationship between a tradesperson and client deteriorates at the start or end of a project doesn’t change the feelings generated. Not achieving the result you expected will always lead at best, to disappointment – at worst anger and resentment. It’s the loss of control, the empty all-consuming dread in your stomach and the bitterness of parting with monies that took you so long to gather that turns renovation dreams into nightmares. For many, it feels like a personal attack on their character because it has happened in the place that typifies their security and stability. In short, they feel betrayed and exposed.

This isn’t to say that the tradesperson doesn’t care or doesn’t have an alternate perspective on how the situation evolved. A tradesperson should reflect on the fact that they still have their secure place to return to after the day’s drama has unfolded.

Communication in any situation is key to paving the way for a successful working relationship or dispute resolution. Understanding the opposite situation and being empathetic to it allows you to overcome problems and be prepared for any difficult periods during a project’s progress.

It is possible to have a great experience when developing your home. It just requires proper planning, good budget setting and money management, clear goals and a good working relationship founded on communication and trust.

Kiistone embodies these values and aims to enhance them because a job well done and the enjoyment it creates should be the result for everyone concerned.

 

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