Wow, talk about a reality check when planning a home renovation in a post-pandemic world. In Nova Scotia, we have been hearing for the last year or so about supply chain issues and the increased costs of home construction. I’m not seeing a whole lot of supply problems, but prices are certainly up there.
More importantly, we have seen staffing issues abound across the board. The problems with hiring and retaining staff are not only in retail and food service. They have hit the construction industry big time. Rumours suggested that many food service employees moved to the construction industry during the pandemic. However, there are still problems due to the massive increase in home building and renovation that has taken place over the last two years.
The Best-Laid Plans
You know what they say about the best-laid plans? They change! In my work with clients designing and managing their home renovations, I am all about a good schedule and preparing before the renovation starts. Accordingly, on a recent kitchen refresh, I worked with the client and the various trades to create a project timeline. We scheduled everything, and everyone agreed on the plan.
And then, with no warning, we got a call on the day the flooring installers were supposed to start. They said they wouldn’t be coming for another week because they were running behind on other jobs. I can only assume that is because they don’t have enough people for the amount of work they have booked. And it’s not like you can call someone else and ask them to come immediately to your rescue. Most trades are booked up for weeks in advance.
My poor client had a meltdown – and so did I. We had prepared the room to install the flooring. Most of the appliances were out of the kitchen, and the main floor of her house was in chaos (which is typical for any renovation).
Reworking the Best Laid Plans
It’s not like changes haven’t happened to me before, but usually, we would have a few days’ notice. In any case, it had a domino effect on everything else. I was able to move a little bit of work into the open days, but it’s not like others can easily change their schedule. We had to bump the cabinet installation by almost a week, and then we have to hope that everything else goes smoothly. It’s a good thing I built a few extra days into the schedule, but now those are gone, so if anything else goes amiss… well, let’s not think about that yet.
Prepare for Unexpected Repairs
On top of the rescheduling issues, there are typically unexpected repairs we cannot predict in most renovation projects until the demolition starts. In this case, there was a leaking water line to the fridge and a problem with the shut-off valves under the sink. (The latter issue is common in older homes.) So, we had to find a plumber who could squeeze into our new tightened schedule to repair these items. Thankfully, my client recently had a plumber in to do some work in her laundry room, and he has agreed to come to our rescue. (Thank you, Scott!) Sadly, the leaking fridge line wasn’t discovered for a few days, so drying out the soaking-wet plywood subfloor was an emergency. Thank goodness Doug from the cabinet company came with a dehumidifier to help.
My Lesson on Setting Expectations
There is always a lesson to learn when things go wrong. Some days I wonder how many lessons I really need, but alas, they continue. Planning a home renovation in a post-pandemic world requires designers, project managers, and contractors to advise their clients that the plan will change and there will likely be significant delays. The next time a client asks me, “Will my renovation be done on time?” my answer will be, “I don’t know.” I hate that answer, but I think that’s the only way to work for the time being. I will still continue to do my utmost to keep things on track. And I sure do hope that the situation changes – and soon!