By Lorianna Kastrop, VP/CFO, The Kastrop Group, Inc., Architects
This is a continuation of our series on building an ADU. Mike and I are building one in our own backyard. In this blog post I would like to reflect on the emotional impact of construction on the affected homeowners. When thinking of construction, most people think of things being created, not destroyed. The fact is, for construction, even construction from the ground up, some demolition will have to occur. This can consist of clearing vegetation and trees, digging the trenches for utilities, and perhaps removing paving, a deck, or other structures. Then, there will be digging for the foundation. Even if you have mentally accepted this inevitability, the actual demolition can have an impact. It can range from a mild annoyance at the mess to a sense of devastation and loss.
I like things to be neat and organized. I enjoy the backyard—the plants, the deck, the patio. I like to read and eat outside if the weather allows. Now the backyard is torn up. There is a big trench, and with rain expected, it is going to be muddy. I admit to feeling disrupted and unhappy. The destruction in the yard is causing mental and physical reactions that are negative. I was not expecting the intensity of these feelings. I thought I was prepared, but I was not.
The “2ft wide trench” in our backyard. As you can see, the footprint of impact is much wider than “2ft”.
If you are remodeling your home, it could be even worse. You may be tearing out walls and changing rooms that hold memories. Even if you look forward to the new space you will be creating, the old space held meaning for you. I recommend that you try to prepare yourself to experience the loss, and to find coping mechanisms that can help you accept the demolition before renewal and creation.
My coping mechanism, besides writing this blog, is to visualize the completed project. You can get sketches and renderings from your architect. You can clip photos from design and architectural magazines that are inspirational. Hang them up on the wall or pin them on a vision board. Try to keep your emotions focused on the journey, and not just the status of your project now. If you like photography, create a photobook of all the steps on the road to completion of your dream project.
The other emotional impact is the financial one. You have planned and saved, obtained the construction loan and are ready to go. But when it is time to start spending the money you may feel resistant. I did not fully anticipate how hard it is to write checks for many thousands of dollars out of our own checking account—even though I signed the contracts and made the commitments to pay out those funds. It is disconcerting, maybe even a little bit frightening. Those feelings are normal! It is reasonable to sense the risk involved in spending large amounts of cash.
Take a deep breath and create your spreadsheet. In the first column, make a list of the planned expenditures—the General Contract, the permit fees, and the payments to other professionals such as architecture and engineering. Don’t forget to include a “contingency” amount—usually 10% for unforeseen costs. There are probably some construction costs (materials, delivery fees, appliances, etc.) that are not included in the General Contract. Your architect can help you create this list of planned expenditures. In the second column, start listing your actual payments as you go—contractor progress payments, as well as the add-ons for supplies, unanticipated costs, fees, repairs, etc. Note the amount paid, who it was paid to, the date paid and the method of payment. This will also help when you need to obtain lien releases from subcontractors.
Then create a third column for everything that you might spend on the project, including furniture & décor that you may wish to buy. In this column you can dream a little. It could be a long list. This is the column where you can make changes if you start feeling tight on funds. For example, I was looking at designer shower stalls. I priced them out on several websites. I decided on my favorites. But ultimately, I believe we are going to go with something simpler and more traditional as included in the contractor’s bid. I allowed myself to dream a little, but the reality is that we probably won’t spend the extra money unless the project seems to be coming in under budget. And I’m OK with that. I needed to go down that road for a little way before I turned back.
The list gives you a feeling of control. You don’t have to obsess about the huge payments in the second column, because they are already anticipated in the first column. They are “on the list”. They are expected. They are part of the process to your goal.
In writing this blog post, I hope that I have given voice to experiences that many of our clients have experienced and will experience. We understand and will help you get through this disruptive process of demolition and construction.
Thanks for reading, and as always, we are “Designing for Your Reality”.