"Nobody is leaving here until the work is done." I said in no uncertain terms, "this project has gone on long enough." (In reality, we were only running a few weeks overdue.)
Home renovation is a lot like child birth; there has to be enough down time in between to have forgotten about the pain and inconvenience, you'll often feel like you want to throw-up, you are likely to run a few weeks late, AND you have to be so thoroughly sick and tired at the end of the process that you are willing to push, push, PUSH to finish the job and finally give birth!
"I'll get the hinges and garbage disposal," I volunteered, grabbing my purse and heading out the door, "stay put . . ." Between my frequent trips back and forth to Home Depot, a case of Raspberry Snapple (we all have our vices) and a full labor force on hand, the crew was 95% finished on the kitchen remodel by Friday evening and it was starting to look really gorgeous.
"We'll see you on Monday," the plumber said, packing up his tools and heading out the door. "No, no," I emphatically responded (I am nothing if not emphatic), "your punch list isn't complete and I absolutely need a working sink for the weekend . . . " I could see the finish line now and I was desperate to move us ALL across it.
As much as I had tried to practice acceptance and tolerance (tools that are high on my priority list) I'd really begun to lose patience and was hanging on by a VERY slim thread. (I'm not great with clutter and dust.) In truth, we were now looking at a HOSTILE TAKEOVER . . .
"You promised that the kitchen would be completed today," I insisted, "so I WILL see you tomorrow. How early can you get here?"
With a new understanding in play, I was baking cookies for my listing appointment on Sunday. The painting crew still needed to return for final touch ups the following week so we couldn't unpack just yet, but we had a nearly functional kitchen - and not a single tradesman in sight. Heaven!
The truth is that, intellectually, I like the process of home renovation and I'm fairly good at it. Certainly, I've had enough practice to know how to collaborate and direct others. Moreover, I also have the support of a family that understands the process and is willing to eat take-out for dinner night, after night, after night . . . It's just that, in reality, construction is a lot more difficult to live through than one imagines, especially when the clients stay in the home, as opposed to moving out temporarily. And admittedly, I don't always make it easy on my vendors, as I grow increasingly impatient and start to crack the proverbial whip.
Let's not even talk about the change orders, as in: "Do you think you can build a custom stove hood since the one I ordered doesn't quite fit?" Or to be perfectly honest, I'm not always the easiest customer. I've got standards and high expectations and like most paying customers, I want what I want, and I want it when I want it. Sound familiar?
Suffice it to say that "acceptance" had left the building and "tolerance" was barely hanging on. "Tolerance isn't about 'tolerating' others," a friend gently reminded me, "it's loving acceptance of someone else's process and differences." Oh snap . . . in short, he was saying there's little to be gained by "hostility" and lots to lose. (I still have so much to learn grasshopper.)
So what's the moral of the story?
Renovations require diligence and an eye for detail. They require good planning, preparation, and flexibility, but in he end, we have to decide what's really critical. While a new kitchen is a lovely thing to fret over, even I recognize that it isn't truly significant on the scale of "life's curve balls" to worry about. When it comes to renovations, the mantra of the day should be: It's not a "problem;' it's an "inconvenience." So more than anything, renovations require real "perspective."
I want to thank those around me for reminding me of what's truly important (although I do love my new kitchen; it's fab!) and I want to thank my team for hanging in there with me and creating something very special - and on budget no less. If I didn't say it enough, I really appreciate it; I appreciate you.
Hey, life is a learning curve. I'll meet you on the road to enlightenment.
Did you catch the article in The SF Chronicle on January 9 on the front of the business section with respect to luxury sales in San Francisco in 2013 (San Francisco Luxury Home Sales Saw a Big Bump in 2013)?
If not, let me give you the Cliff Notes: wherein it states that luxury home sales last year outpaced luxury home sales at the peak of the market in 2007, by twice as many and averaged $1,100 a square foot. One high-rise condominium at the Millennium Towers in South Beach sold for $2,500 a square foot and closed at a whopping $4,500,000! Now that's pricey real estate.
What do those results mean for those of us who hang our hats here in Piedmont? It means that our values are a bargain by comparison where the average price per square foot in 2013 came in at a mere $559. Certainly, that's not chump change compared to other markets in other states, but in the Bay Area, it's the best deal coming, or going.
I'm certain that if you check these figures with other nearby communities of our caliber, ie: Ross, Kensington, Palo Alto, Woodside, Menlo Park, Hillsborough, Tiburon . . . you'll find that we simply offer more bang for the buck (and with great schools to boot)!
So what are you waiting for and how can I help you?
Building Community, One Family at a Time . . .
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 600 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.