The Dirty Little Secret of Home Renovations: Divorce Dust
by melissa davis | There’s a term we use in the renovation business: Divorce Dust. An insider’s shared acknowledgement that helps us, help you, navigate the process while keeping the reality that this is really hard, front of mind. I’ve been designing and renovating homes for nearly two decades. My friends marvel at my ability in life to breeze through stressful situations, seemingly unaffected. The fact is I’ve been conditioned to live always just beyond the problem, hovering around potential solutions.
My job is to anticipate issues, pivot, act, react with unwavering commitment to forward motion. If you’ve ever embarked on home improvements on any scale, you know that a small change, or discovery, can lead to big delays and cost overages. Disillusion about this unavoidable truth, will only lead to a very disappointing and ill-prepared renovation. I don’t say that as a negative, but rather a way to get the team in the right head space. Because I function as a design and build consultant, I’m able to walk my clients into the project offering feedback on what to expect today, next month and in a year.
Our team is a bit different than most We coordinate everything from staging to full new build homes and multi-floor offices. We design them, build the necessary team of experts and manage the final design touches. I consider myself a collector of experts. A group more proficient than me at their respective jobs. All this is to say there is no one-stop website to populate all the elements of the perfect project, but rather a building piece by piece.
Instead of the same old renovation checklist, I’m going to give you something more important:
HOW TO AVOID THE DIVORCE DUST
1. Know that there will be dust. Prepare yourself for the general feeling that you and everything in your universe, is a little dirty. All. The. Time. This also lasts months after the renovation wraps as it settles. Tip: cover vents with plastic and turn off the heat and air-conditioning systems in advance.
2. It’s okay to not agree on everything. Inevitably you and your partner will have different priorities. What I ask is for couples to prepare separate lists noting their own wants and personal likes. Then we can put them side by side and find the commonalities. Then you each highlight your one “splurge” item and no matter what we make sure we keep them both in. Compromise on the small stuff is easier when we feel like we’re getting something big.
3. Listen to your gut. It doesn’t matter how fantastic the references, or one’s ability to say everything right. If something tells you not to hire a contractor, or anyone, don’t do it. As silly as it sounds our brain’s subconscious ability to flag oddities can be far more effective than reason. These people are about to be welcomed into your home and family and is paramount in
making this a joyful experience.
4. Budget for problems. Especially in residential where any number of wonderments can be lurking behind the walls, you absolutely must plan for it financially. Set aside 20% to be safe. I then wait until the project is nearing completion and begin to reallocate some of the savings for the splurges we didn’t need, but would love.
Toronto-based celebrity designer and expert contractor MELISSA DAVIS, is known for her appearances, creative design and reno work produced for various HGTV shows. With almost two decades of reno & design experience her firm continues to service clientele throughout Ontario & GTA, specializing in value-adding ROI and resale consultations.
www.melissadavis.com | @melissadavis