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What to Expect During a Home Remodel – from a Client Who's Gone Through It

Contributed by recent remodel client Deah in Kirkland --- Even though McDonald & Co didn’t start work on my remodel until about October first, for me the work started in August with sorting through everything that had taken up residence in my condo and deciding what to discard and what to keep. It’s surprising how much stuff gets pushed into the dark corners of closets and drawers.

For a while, as I was in preparation for my remodel, everything felt like it was in upheaval. Boxes were everywhere. It was like living in a warehouse. By September first, the piles of unwanted stuff, grad school books, and old furniture filled a whole Sasquatch Junk Removal truck.

Then the process of packing up what to put in storage, and what to keep accessible in suitcases and smaller boxes took up most of the weeks before October. A company called Clutter wrapped up all the remaining furniture, removed boxes of clothes and more books and knick knacks to storage. By October first I was exhausted and the remodel hadn’t even begun.

When your remodel work does start, it's important to discard all fantasies that the project can be done like the magic of television on all those home flip shows. Be ready for a bunch of critical hidden issues to come up that expand the timeline and budget, such as rotten joists, foundation problems, mold or asbestos abatement, and so on. The older the building, the more of these problems are likely to arise.

The good thing about this is that Nate McDonald is great at finding and fixing such issues during the remodel so that your finished result is free from worry about these things.

While the remodel is underway, there are a plethora of little decisions to make on things you’d never thought of before. Will you replace the fixtures in the bathroom? What style do you want? What color grout? Will your old towels look good with your new bathroom tile and paint? Replacing carpeting with hardwood is likely to require buying area rugs, so you spend days hunting through pile height, colors, and patterns online, trying to anticipate perfect timing between the floors being finished and delivery of the rugs just prior to return of furniture from Clutter.

Fortunately, Sarah McDonald offers a variety of design services to help coordinate these style and decor dilemmas. Her eye for design can be an invaluable part of the process, and she can help you procure a variety of items at affordable prices.

Then there’s the question of what you will do with yourself while the work is happening – an especially crucial decision if you normally work from home as I do. A three month vacation is probably impractical for most homeowners. So should you try living in the space while the work is going on around you, or look for an AirBnB to camp out in for the duration? That was my choice, and I was fortunate to find a place not far away that was a self contained small apartment with a private entrance, full kitchen and laundry, and great wifi so I could continue my web-based work while displaced from home.

If you do try to live in your space while the work is happening – as I needed to do after 6 weeks elsewhere – there are a few things to consider, such as:

  • How much noise and construction debris can you stand having around you?

  • What will you need to have in order to function at a minimum optimal level?

  • Can you deal with random interruptions of privacy and convenience?

  • Can you refrain from socializing with the workers, or micro-managing their efforts?

Keeping myself organized was an effective coping mechanism during this live-in period. It was necessary to put my things away -- obsessively in the same place every time -- as soon as I finished using them, and under the cover of towels, sheets, and old shirts I'd later throw away to protect electronics, toothbrush, and clothes from the ubiquitous drywall dust.

Earplugs were another handy coping tool to keep me sane on days when a lot of high pitched, ear-splitting, migraine inducing whine from drills and saws was happening.

Downsizing expectations was another useful strategy for enduring the messiness of the final phase of the remodel. That is, I kept reminding myself not to try to be as productive with my own work as usual because my atmospheric conditions just wouldn't allow that. This kept me from being overly frustrated.

But perhaps the best thing about doing a remodel with McDonald & Co, in addition to the high quality of work that is accomplished -- is that Nate is especially sensitive to homeowners' needs. He kept me informed about his plans for each day, made sure I was consulted on how I'd be using various features he installed, and was unfailingly courteous. Although I hadn't been a big texter before, Nate texted me in the mornings to let me know when he was stopping by a store to pick up supplies, or was delayed in traffic. I appreciated that kind of notice and came to look forward to his texts.

Overall, despite the months of mess, I can't imagine a better experience of going through a remodel than what I encountered with McDonald & Co. Get in touch with them today if you are thinking about remodeling a room or more in your home.

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