5 Side Effects of Going Through a Remodel


A remodel can affect your mental and physical health. Here are a few common symptoms to watch out for…

Everyone knows the symptoms of a common cold — sore throat, runny nose, watery eyes. But did you know that remodels also have symptoms and side effects? After decades of working in and living around the remodeling industry, I’ve observed that there are a few side effects that almost everyone in the process of a remodel falls victim to.

The good news is that I’ve dedicated the last few years of my life to studying these effects and have come up with some treatments to ensure you retain your sanity and health during your renovation.

1. Scope Creep

This is a sneaky affliction that affects a homeowner’s budget and schedule. A common example of Scope Creep occurs when a homeowner sets out to remodel just one room in the house — let’s say it’s the kitchen.

A kitchen renovation is a simple enough project, and should be done quickly and easily. But then homeowners think to themselves, “But if we’re painting the kitchen, won’t the living room look dingy if it still has the old paint job? And with all this new cabinetry in the kitchen, the built-ins in the dining room will look outdated and out of place. Shouldn’t we replace them too?”

And just like that, the scope has changed from remodeling the kitchen to also include painting the living room and installing new cabinetry in the dining room.

Recommendation: If you have a little wiggle room in your budget and schedule, you might choose to embrace the creep. But if you’re dedicated to sticking to your planned time and dollar investment, avoiding Scope Creep is a must. A great way to avoid the creep is the classic method of weighing pros and cons. If you decide that painting your living room is worth the extra investment, maybe a little creep isn’t so bad. But if the cons of purchasing new cabinetry for the dining room outweigh the benefits, be firm with yourself and say no to temptation.

2. Obsessive Design Disorder

This is a sickness that affects homeowners, interior designers, architects, contractors and just about anyone else who is interested in home design. You’ll know its onset when you are hanging out at your friends’ house and you can’t help but think of all the ways you would renovate their home.

Or you’ll be sitting down to eat at your favorite restaurant and suddenly find yourself staring at the ceiling to see what type of light fixtures and crown molding it has.

Obsessive Design Disorder is harmless. The most serious side effect is the awkwardness that ensues when your friend realizes you haven’t been listening to her and have instead been gawking at her home.

Recommendation: Websites such as Houzz offer a distraction that can help keep the disorder at bay, but ultimately this disorder has no discovered cure. Extreme cases have resulted in homeowners quitting their day jobs to enter the remodeling business or become an interior designer.

3. The ‘Why Did We Stay Here’ Blues

This disorder affects homeowners who have chosen to live in their home during their renovation. The “Why Did We Stay Here” Blues are easy to diagnose, as most homeowners affected by them are found asking themselves the same question: “Why did I decide to do this again?”

The onset of the blues is usually preceded by interrupted schedules, an excess of dust and construction noise and the lack of a normal kitchen or bathroom (depending on the project). Other symptoms of the blues include checking out local apartment complexes online, feeling a sense of dread at the thought of returning home after work or school and considering an impromptu stay with your parents or in-laws for an undetermined amount of time.

Recommendation: There are two cures for the blues: Move out or hunker down. If you choose to move out, be prepared for extra costs. Hunkering down is the less, er, fun option, but reminding yourself of the end goal can help keep your head on straight. Continually reassure yourself that you’re doing the right thing, and visualize the money you’re saving by staying put. Plus, it’ll be fun to tell friends and family someday about “that time you slept in a cot in your dining room because your master suite was being remodeled.”

4. Remodeling-Induced Gastrointestinal Distress

Remodeling-Induced Gastrointestinal Distress is most common among homeowners who are renovating their kitchen and have to resort to endless meals of drive-through and takeout food. Homeowners suffering from this distress are constantly faced with difficult questions, such as “I don’t know, what do you want to eat?” “Aren’t you tired of McDonald’s yet?” and “Do you think [insert friend or family member here] would mind if we stopped by for dinner this weekend?”

Recommendation: A preventive solution is to create a temporary kitchen before the remodel, stocked full of small appliances, microwaveable meals, paper plates and napkins and (if you drink alcohol) a couple of bottles of your booze of choice.

No space for a spare kitchen? Counteract this side effect by taking to the internet to search for new restaurant options near your home. Or meditate on all the dirty dishes you don’t have to wash while your permanent kitchen is out of order.

5. Acute Renovation-Induced Memory Loss

Colloquially known as “Rose-Colored Glasses,” this occurs after a project has ended. Homeowners dealing with this condition become so enamored with their newly renovated space that they seem to forget all the trials and tribulations they faced during their project.

Schedule delays? Unexpected costs? Messy subcontractors? Homeowners “suffering” from Acute Renovation-Induced Memory Loss recall no such things. Rather, all they see is their beautiful new space, perfectly customized to their every want and need, sparkling and ready to be used for years to come.

Recommendation: All in all, this isn’t necessarily a negative side effect, so no “cure” has been found. Enjoy this one while it lasts. But if you do embark on another project down the road, try to think back about all those difficulties and find ways to streamline the process or mentally prepare yourself. And just keep reminding yourself that it will all be worth it in the end.

The good news is that all these disorders are temporary (save for Obsessive Design Disorder, which may have lasting effects). While they are inconvenient and at times they may drive you and your family nutty, the side effects will pass once your remodel is over, if not before.

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