What to Expect when You’re Expecting… A Remodel!
This is the Simply Home Podcast - Ladies who build, a podcast for women by women.
This is Ashley Wainscott and Michelle Mullins.
After spending the last 10 years revolutionizing the construction industry and raising the bar of the contracting world.
We are inviting you on our journey as we continuously learn how to be extraordinary and thrive in this industry.
Now, come hang with us.
Welcome to Episode 9 of Ladies Who Build.
What to expect when you’re expecting a remodel!
So we have so many good tidbits about this.
We even created a whole printout guide for it for our clients. So I think that this is such an important episode because it just really gets you in the mindset of, “Okay, if I've truly never done this before, what should I expect? How should I prepare and what to be looking for?”
And Michelle's actually the pro at this. I'm just going to sit here for frills, but Michelle's had all of the expectations meetings, I mean under the sun. That's what we call them, expectations meetings. High level overview is we'll be talking about this particular expectations meeting and guide that we give our clients.
Really the entire process is expectations that we set up from start to finish. We'll be talking about storage and what our recommendations are for that, moving out or living in.
Pets. What do you do with your pets if you have pets?
What do you do with them? You can't get rid of them. Contingency. We'll be talking about what that means, how that's involved.
Decision fatigue. When it's, we'll go into more detail of like what that looks like when you know you've hit it. And how to prepare for it.
And how to prepare.
And then emotional distress. And how to be emotionally prepared for what's coming.
We make it sound like it's, this is like a rollercoaster that they're about to get on.
Because it is.I mean, buckle up.
I know, it is kind of an emotional rollercoaster.
It is. For us, it's every single day. It's a normal day to day.
But for someone that hasn't been through this and that, I mean, and why would you go through this frequently? I wouldn't recommend that.
Right. Unless you just love torture.
A level of purgatory.
You love the pain.
I mean, just kidding. Do remodels. They're all really, really great. They're so much fun.
Right. They're so good. You're gonna love us.
Do you believe us yet? Do you believe us?
All right, where should we start?
I say we talk about the easiest thing.
Which I think are the logistics of storage, just storage. Whether it's material storage or storage for your personal things.
So, in your opinion, I'll just tell you mine. I prefer...
Wait, I don't care. I'm going to tell you mine.
I prefer... Well, okay, I kind of prefer both. So I love when we get to use a space in the house that like we're not even touching or it's not even being worked on. And I love to just organize all of my material in that room. Also, it's climate controlled, so I get to just come and go as I please in that room.
That is like, you know, that's a great option, but a lot of clients don't have that luxury. Or we're remodeling the whole house, right? So we're not going to keep materials in a construction zone. So then you can do a pod, which is super popular. A lot of our clients do it. It can go in your front yard, driveway, whatever. Of course we do the same thing. We'll label it. We'll organize it in there. And then, of course, it's locked. So it's really nice that you don't have to worry about anything sketch happening.
Yes, safe and secure. Obviously there are horror stories of people, like, breaking locks. But we get a good lock. We make sure it's always locked. I mean, the universe just... has its ways outside of that. But I think in general because you know, you have the materials like what Michelle was saying, depending on the size of remodel that you have going on, you can store it in your garage and a room in your house if it's one room, right?
But then yeah, if they have hardwood like you were saying climate control, right? That has to be stored in the house. Because we actually visited a client's house and they've gone through this treacherous remodel and it was horrible. They parted ways with the general contractor and the general contractor had installed the hardwood that was sitting in their home without AC.
Oh yeah, I think I've heard about this.
Yeah, and so it ended up voiding the warranty. I mean, it was, you could tell the hardwood, it was brand new, but yet it was not in the shape it should have been in.
And then it expands.
Yes. Oh goodness.
It was an overall disaster and it makes you feel really sad. I mean, kind of like in the Arms of the Angel song with Sarah McLaughlin, like, that's kind of what I was hearing and feeling and seeing as I was walking through the house looking at this hardwood.
Yeah, you definitely can't rush a hardwood floor installation and just don't do it. It's not worth it to rush it because it just needs time to acclimate and get used to your environment.
Yeah, it does. That is funny. It's like a living, breathing wood. It's wood.
Oh my gosh. It's almost a wood.
It's almost wood.
It's almost like a tree.
It's like a tree.
Wood is a tree.
And then you have your personal items.
Oh yeah. So then, okay. Get those out.
Delicates, tiny things, valuables, glass, like, just get it out. Honestly, we've actually had clients, too, use a, like, concierge moving service, which is really nice. There's a bunch that exist in Austin, and it's really cool because they, like, they come to your house, they pack everything up, they take photos of all your inventory, they do, like, a quality check of the inventory. And then they store it off site, and then, whenever you need the stuff to come back, I think you schedule them, like, on a two weeks or a week in advance, and then they come, bring it all back, and set it back up for you. I mean, it's truly... great, whoever created that business, great idea.
Yeah, I mean it really saves so much time for the homeowner. It's worth every penny I'd imagine. I mean if you're going to do the remodel, right, it's easy for me to say like it's worth every penny, but if you're going to do the remodel and you're going to make this investment, there's obviously things that you're going to find are worth it and not worth it for you. I feel like everyone has a different opinion of it. But let us just tell you as people. who observe and watch clients do this every single day. If you're going to do this huge remodel on your home and it's not just a one room situation, I would save the money and invest in that. Just wait, wait another couple months, wait a year, however long you need to and do it the right way.
Yeah, it's so nice. Like I'm just thinking about the clients who've done that and it just keeps everything clean and pristine and good to go.
Clean and pristine. Okay, so then moving out.
Hot topic. I feel like this is something clients always ask us is like, are we able to move out? Is this something, is this something that we should do? And usually people don't hear the way sometimes clients have strong opinions on this. And I am, my experience and what we recommend is if you're remodeling one room and you want to live through this, then good luck, but we will give you some warnings, right? It is. It's a much harder process mentally as a human being to go through when you have humans in your house who you don't know. We know them, but you don't know them, right? And then they're talking and they're doing things. They're working there, right? They're going to eat there throughout the day. They might leave for a break, but they're there. I mean, they're in your home all day. And then there’s noises, there’s dust, your house gets dirty because it's an actual construction site and so expectations should be that and I think every single time I do a project in my home, I'm reminded of why we recommend this.
I mean, to your point, we had a handyman over to the house a couple months ago and he was doing something so simple. I don't know what he was doing. I think putting in a new front door. But either way, just that alone, I was like, I'm going crazy. The drilling, but it was so simple, right? It's a front door. No big deal. It's gonna be over in an hour, but I, it was just hard to do any work because it just echoes. Obviously not everybody has the luxury to move out and so we really will work with you around that. We're not saying like it's do or die get out people do it all the time. Um, but to your point, Ashley, is that I think you have to be really mentally prepared and ready and hopefully you have like a co working space or an office that you could go to.
If you work from home.
Go. Go stay with friends.
Go on vacation.
Go on vacation. Oh my gosh, yes.
Go take that vacation that we all know you need. Because, you know, live in the American culture life where you don't take vacations. I'm just calling you out like I see it. But go on vacation. Go wherever your heart desires. Even if vacation is, I don't know, somewhere, like, what's somewhere cute? Like Fredericksburg, close by.
Yeah, staycation somewhere.
Yeah. Basically, get out.
Get out. Get out. That's what we're saying. Isn't there a movie called Get Out?
Yeah. Get Out.
Obviously for full home remodels, you can't be in the home. For additions, you 100% are absolutely not even allowed in the home, right? You don't have a certificate of occupancy. The home is literally open. It's not livable.
In those cases, you can't live there.
No, not even at all. But that being said, I promise you that you will like tour decision and that you will like the whole experience a lot more when you're not putting yourself through something like this. I mean, it's no joke.
No, it's no joke.
So get out. That's what the moral of that story is.
We're laughing, but ha ha, no joke.
So yes, that's what we recommend. I, and it's funny because you did mention that, but I was even doing a tiny bit. I was finishing up. A mini remodel I did on my house. I was finishing up painting. There were just some minor touch ups to a few things around the house. And that disruption to your everyday life was so frustrating. I mean, Jack. Husband Jack was so annoyed with the whole situation.
You know, he likes to be in his zone And I mean you can't you can't get to your kitchen. You can't move around the same way. I mean it just throws way more things off than you'd expect and we want to prevent frustrations, right? We want to have it as enjoyable for everyone.
So that's moving out. The next thing is contingency
So we suggest putting aside 5% contingency which means, putting aside 5% of the total project budget to the side in case things come up and things will come up. We just don't know if it will be 1% or 5% of your invoice total.
Yes, this is so crucial and I think people misunderstand that it's needed. Or they might say, you know, it doesn't matter, we've got the estimate, like what could possibly go wrong. And to Ashley's point, something always comes up, and it doesn't mean nothing goes wrong. we're just, we're used to things coming up and we have solutions for it. But there are just simply things we cannot see, we cannot know that's going to trigger something else. Remodeling a house is way harder than a new build, so there's just so many things that, you know, people before you have done in the house, and so we just don't know until we get in there. So if something is going to come up, and you just need to put it aside. Just plain and simple.
Yeah, brace yourself. And we've talked about this on episodes previous to this, or before, but what we always say is 5% at our company, but if you're working with somebody else, check what their average contingency is that their clients spend and if they include it and if clients spend over it, because just cause ours is 5%, I think the industry standard is around 15 to 20%, which again, that that's a lot of money to set aside, but I mean, you gotta do it just to go in with clear expectations, you know, you don't want to end up putting yourself in a tight spot.
So basically, get your budget prepared and then add at least 5% to that.
Yeah. I mean, if you're working with someone, someone, someone as great as us, or a company as great as us, then it's around 5%.
Which is pretty stinking good, actually.
Mm hmm. It stinks. It's stinky. It's stinky.
Aall right, next one is a favorite of ours to discuss, but it's emotional distress and being emotionally prepared because we've had a lot of clients who enter into this process where they're not in a place or a phase of their life to be doing a remodel and adding this to their plate is the straw that breaks the camel's back and they, I'm sure they want to like go admit themselves into a mental institute. But we recommend doing a remodel when you're in a place where you mentally can handle a really large project like this. And it's, it's, I don't even know that it's like the level of your involvement, right? When you still hire a remodeling firm, that's not even what it is. It's that there's someone remodeling your home, you know, like the place that you call home, one of your huge investments, your money, right? Like the weight of all of it from all the different viewpoints, It's just a lot on a person.
Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, you kind of, each individual person can say when they're emotionally ready, or like, what their emotional capacity is, and like, obviously we're not here to tell you what that capacity is, but, we have worked with people in the past, many, many years ago, where like, there was a recent death in the family, and it was really awful, but they wanted to like, proceed with a remodel. Anyway, long story short, it was so much harder for this homeowner because every decision seemed to be such a huge decision that she couldn't make a decision on because of, again, like we talked about the decision fatigue, your mind is so filled with other things. It's like, how am I even going to make a decision over there, over here about this? When in reality, it could be very simple, but when you're in that place mentally, it's, it's kind of hard to dissect what's a normal and what's an easy decision, right? So you know, you have to make decisions throughout the remodel. And so, and you're talking to your project manager and anyway, so it's just get through whatever's going on in your life and then consider bringing someone in at that point.
Yeah. Think about your capacity. Is this actually a good. a good idea for you at this moment.
And then if it's not, but you absolutely have to get this remodeled and, you know.
Then move out.
Move out, I'd consider resetting a lot of your expectations for yourself and what you have going on. But we say this because not because we are trying to embed ourselves in your, in your mental state, but with us working alongside you pretty much every single day, it has an impact on us too. Right?
So like, think about the person of who you'll be during this process and how you'll be showing up for all parties involved. I don't know about you, but how I like to proceed and show up is my best self with, You know, people I'm working with, people I'm working with for my business, on other organizations, or even just people working on my home. You know, I don't want to show up and be the Grinch or Satan.
And you know who you are, people. Not naming any names.
Like, you want to show up and be kind, right? Just be kind to humans in general.
Yeah, I think it's good that we, because we do really put a lot of importance on emotional stability with, like, our team and our clients, and I think a lot of, I mean, I think other GCs do too, but not to the extent that we really want to, like, protect it and talk about it, and so you know, going through a remodel is emotional, and it's okay, right, like it's okay to be emotional about it, it's okay if you have a frustration about something. We want you to talk about it and bring it out on the table instead of just kind of harboring it and then you, like, hate us later. So, a lot of through the process our project managers are really trained to start asking questions and kind of get a little bit deeper with them, with the clients. And so it's nice because whatever is lingering on your mind, we're going to get it out, but it only just like clears the table and you're like, okay, we can move forward now. We've talked about a solution, you know, and we move forward. So yeah, we talk a lot about emotional, like awareness with clients and ourselves.
It really does help move the whole project forward when everyone can be transparent and level headed.
Yeah, honest is is huge.
Honest. Level-headed was one I wasn't thinking about, but also that, yeah, there's so many components and parts to it. I mean, we know we're not gonna be our best every single day. Right. But, mm-hmm. for 95% of the time. It's pretty good stat.
Yeah. Pretty good.
Who's next? Next animal.
Okay, let me just tell you a story. So, we remodeled a house many moons ago. They were like the coolest couple, but,bless their heart, they had like three cats. And this was my learning lesson, house. And we were doing a kitchen remodel, and guys were going in and out. And what I should have done was say... Hey, you should probably lock your cats away in a room that we are not going into. Like, that would have made sense, but I didn't say that, and I should have. And I checked on the house one day, and one of the, one of our vendors had said, Hey, by the way, I saw the cat run out, and I don't know where he went. So let me just tell you what I did. I got in my car. Like, it's a cat. I don't own a cat, so I don't really know how to, like, communicate with a cat. So I get in my car, and I'm, like, yelling, hear kitty kitty, like, through the neighborhood, and I'm, like, clambering and making noises. Like, I'm scaring the cat away, is what I'm doing. But I was so freaked out, and for, like, an hour and a half, I'm driving around this neighborhood, truly about to cry, because I feel so bad. And then... the clients come home and I like call them and I was like y'all I'm so sorry I just don't know what to do and she was like, okay, I'll head home. So she heads home and she's like, “Oh, they're all here. They're underneath the bed. They're fine.” I was like, okay so it was, it was just such a good learning lesson that put your, put your, put your animals away.
Yeah, and don't, I mean preferably they're not even at the house while we're working because accidents happen. Maybe someone goes into the room that if they're looking for a material or something and they open the door or, you know, whatever, we try and hang signs up and communicate that. But again, this is a very human endeavor process, right? So we always just explain that humans will be humans and animals will be animals.
The door opened for a massive piece of countertop that takes a minute to get in. And sometimes a cat could run out during that time.
Yeah, we just can't be responsible for your pets. We love them. All our guys are cool with them. But definitely keep them in a room.
And we, you know, I actually did hear the other day from a designer that one of her clients, one of their animals was so emotionally distressed.
Oh wait, I remember this. Was this a while ago?
This wasn't our client.
Oh. But I don't know what you're thinking of. And he lost all his hair.
Oh, really? No.
It's not funny. I think he's fine now.
He lost all his hair?
Yeah, just that it was emotional distress because of the remodel.
They get so stressed out.
I know. It's so sad.
They really do get so stressed out. I mean, it's their home. You don't, I mean, you don't think about them.
Well, they don't know what's happening. They don't know a remodel is happening.
Yeah. They didn't sign the contract. They don't know.
It's like World War II happening in their house. All the sounds and they're like, mom, are you seeing this? Anyone else seeing this? But yeah, it's so stressful for them. I'm not going to say the ending of that story because it's just sad.
Oh, okay. Yeah, we can all just guess.
Oh my god, it's sad.
So you should be thinking about your animals is what we're saying. It's on our expectations guide. Let's talk about our expectations guide. Our expectations guide, we, was the first step of setting expectations for clients before they started their remodel. And me being on the sales side, Michelle being on the PM side, project management side. When we had this meeting, I would hand it over to Michelle and the team, and they would go over expectations around, okay, let's talk construction, right? You've made it through all the budgeting, all the materials, all the planning and development, but now we need to talk about project management. And this beautiful guide has really been the... I mean, the guiding light for all the other expectations meetings we have with clients throughout our process now. But this one I find extra special because it has notes on all of these things like contingency, animals, if we're working on electrical and plumbing, you know, there will be days without electrical and plumbing, right? Things that you should prepare for throughout your remodel, depending on what it is. Iif we're going to be plasticing up an area, if we're going to be covering floors, there's just a lot of things that you as the client mentally don't know what you're about to get into. And... I just think it's a wonderful guide, but again, you as the client, we really rely on you to read it and process it and understand it.
Yes. And in that meeting, the project manager that you're with goes through how they operate, how they like to communicate. So they kind of just go through their communication style and who they are. And so then we kind of ask the same questions about you just to make sure that we're like vibing and we're like providing the service that you're expecting. It's not just us like forcing it on you. So yeah, you really get to know your project managers during that meeting and you become like best little friends and we want you to be really close with us. Because again, like what you were saying earlier is that if something comes up throughout the process, we want you to trust us to be like, “Hey, this really bothered me. Can we talk about it?” And we're like, “yes, heck yeah, let's talk about it. Thank you for bringing it up.” So yeah, it's really nice. And basically that expectations guide is everything we've ever learned that hasn't repeatedly happened. And we're like, “Oh, this is really good for a new client to know.”
Yes. And when clients, when you do the closeout meeting, they'll give us advice or tips and tricks that we'll pass on to future homeowner clients.
Yeah. So, and I love that question to ask.
Yeah. Like what? What would you wanted to know before this process started and then it's basically everything we're saying right now. We take that information and pass it along right like that's our job is to continue sharing so we have a nice funnel for that information.
Yeah, so the biggest thing I'll say throughout this whole process, which I wrote in my notes, and I really want to make sure we say is trusting this process when you're signing up for a remodel with a firm like ours and trusting this process, but also having grace. And I say this because we've had clients ask us about the difference between our project management and project management in general, right? And I think when I was thinking about it this morning, I was realizing, our project management is different because we rely on so many third parties with materials, freight companies, delivery companies. We rely on all of our vendors and then everything that their teams are working on. And so the amount of parties involved to get from start to finish is, I mean, it's enormous, but it's also not fully in our control. Right? We can only control so much. And so, when you're going into this process, I, I say to brace yourself to have grace and have understanding. Because if we could control it, we would. Right? There are a lot of things that we ask to control because, you know, it just leads to a better outcome. But we can't control everyone and everything. And that's not how this process works. I just wanted to put that out there.
I mean, preach. Yes. A hundred percent. I think that's a misconception that some clients, not all but like some clients think that because I hired you and I'm paying a cost for project management that you should control everything and like to prevent hiccups and that is not anything that we would ever promise because we are not here to because we are not here to say that this process is gonna be perfect and that we can know everything behind the walls, like Ashley said, if we could, oh my goodness, we would. But, we are, what we're saying is that you have a person that's directing the ship, right? So they call the shots, they know how to pay out vendors. They know when not to pay out vendors, right? So we're not getting you in a bind and we're completely running the show. And then when things come up, our job is to provide you solutions promptly, provide you pricing if needed promptly, and handle it, right? Like that's what you're hiring us to do. It's not to like create a perfect project because newsflash, those don't exist.
Perfect anything, that's a ha ha word.
Yeah, like there's nothing perfect.
Ha ha ha. Perfect in that we're setting expectations in. Following it.
But, I mean, our job is to navigate through the issues.
We're the experts and we're going to navigate through it and, and we have a billion solutions.
So yeah. Yeah. There's always solutions. We like that.
What else you got?
Oh, oh, the last thing I wanted to talk about is that in a lot of these scenarios we talked about there are options, right? You have lots of options for every single one of these things we talked about. But, in some cases there aren't options. So it's also coming to grips with that you will have a lot of options for some things and some things you won't have a lot of options for. Moving out. When you're doing an addition, you have to move out. That's, it's not an option. Right? If we find something in the walls, the option is you have to, you have to fix it. Right? There sometimes just isn't an option of fix it or not fix it.
Or like if an inspector calls something out that he wants fixed.
That's not an option. We gotta do it.
Yeah, we gotta do it. And that's just That's where your contingency comes into place.
If we didn't think about it yet.
Yes, that's just how it goes. And you might have options for how to fix it. Preferably that is the case, but. I just also wanted to float that out there.
Yeah. No, I think that's really good. I'm trying to think, I think we hit like the high level points. You know, we could, like we were talking about earlier is, you know, expectations of like what it's like with the guys going in and out of the house on a daily basis. Like how you want to keep communication to them to a minimum because then it's like too many hands in the pot. And it's like, let us, we know what we told them. Let us do our thing.
I think. I mean, that's like high level going into it to have like a good game plan. And then the rest of it, we just inform you about and just be aware of and that's it. Like, we'll just take care of the rest.
Yeah. We guide. We're the tour guide. Let us guide. You just, you sit on the bus and let us know if you want to make, make any additional stops on the tour or anything. But other than that, that's it. That's us. So really, that's everything. I mean, there's definitely more to it as Michelle was saying, but those are the high level what to expect when you're expecting a remodel.
And it's funny because it's kind of like the book preparing for a baby. You gotta prepare.
And if you're curious about like what more or like what the rest of the expectations guide look like, give us a ring.
Ring a ding ding. Well, that's all for today.