Renovation Survival 101: Fighting “While-I’m-At-It-itis”

Growing up, my family was involved in a lot of renovations. And my dad always jokingly warned us against the dastardly renovation disease “while-I’m-at-it-it is”. And he’s a doctor so he knows all about diseases.

This disease though is one of the biggest threats to your budget, your sanity, and your peace of mind. 

Basically it’s anytime you embark on one task, and then, since you’re in fix-it mode, you add another.  And another. And what was supposed to be a new sink and backsplash has turned into tearing down a wall,  changing plumbing, and a $40,000 kitchen remodel. 

Now sometimes you run across something as you update one area that seriously requires attention.  Mold in the walls.  A leak in the pipe. An ant colony in your basement (this happened to my aunt -haha- and uncle). And what you hoped would be. Little thing turns into something bigger.

That’s not really what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about willfully piling on more to a simple job until everyone is unhappy.

But don’t despair!  There are ways to fight it!  Here’s my big three to fight the urge to think “while I’m at it….”

  1. Review your budget. Nothing brings you back down to earth faster than remembering how much money you don’t have left to spend.  And don’t spend your 10% contingency on the first great idea you have!  You need that!  There could be ants in the walls!
  2. Never leave the room. Not literally of course, but in the scope of your renovation.  If this is supposed to be a mudroom makeover, you have no business thinking about the whole garage, the laundry room, the kitchen, the bathroom……
  3. Start planning the next project. This may sound counter-intuitive, but recognizing that this is not your “last chance” to do everything you want to is good! If you come up with an amazing (but definitely add-on) idea, write it down and set it aside for the next project. It shall not be part of this one, but that doesn’t mean it will never happen.

Overall, stay focused and stay rational! It’s your home, so you can make some pretty emotion driven decisions at times – and you should love your home and have a beautiful place to live! But you can make it your dream home in chunks. – manageable, affordable chunks.

We, of course, are doing everything at once.  But we still have to fight the urge to add on unnecessary bells and whistles.  With such a large project it’s even more important to recognize what can wait, what didn’t need to be done at all, and what we truly can afford to do.

Anyone ever start a small project that turned into a monster?

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