Managing {great} Expectations

I’ve written this post three times in the last two weeks. 

We still haven’t moved into #birchroadreno. We have been living with my sister and brother-in-law and their pooch since the end of November.

darwin doggo
Here’s Darwin half asleep and content to snug, half annoyed we are still on his couch.

The last few weeks, mainly since the beginning of 2019, have been a roller coaster of emotions. You name them, and I’m feeling them: excitement, disappointment, aggravation, anxiety, frustration and at times, delirium. Really feeling all the feelings these days. 

First the positive: 

Excitement over the progress and near finish of our house. Our general contractor Pat, who we’ve known for years, has been instrumental in keeping things on track, including herding our subcontractors. He’s also who we bought all of our cabinets, vanities and hardware from, and stone slabs through which was a great experience. 

Our electrician, Kevin, has been working away replacing the knob and tube and upgrading all of our systems/zones since August, and thankfully he isn’t sick of us yet! He has taken the time to explain the process and upgrade while dealing with our indecisiveness on our final lighting controls & fixtures. The tile work has been an incredible process to watch unfold and Luigi’s craftsmanship is beautiful. The same goes for our carpentry work. Our carpenter John, is an artisan. He has taken our kitchen cabinets, walls, windows and other details to the next level. The precision of details scattered around this old house of ours are truly beautiful. I have to admit, I was skeptical about crown modeling. In general it sounds old, even dated to me. But I’ve been proven wrong. I can’t wait to show you all. 

I can’t stress enough the value in developing meaningful, personal relationships with your team. One complaint I have heard repeatedly is that the homeowner can’t get their contractor/electrician/painter…etc on the phone.  We have built relationships with each one of our subcontractors and could tell you more about their families, kids and grandkids; their likes/dislikes and hobbies but most importantly, I know I can call/text/email almost all of our contractors personally. My husband and I are both collectors of friends so once you’re in our life, you’re kind of stuck with us. Take our friends Liz & Jeffrey for example. We met on vacation one year in the Caribbean and not only did they come to our wedding, but we see them regularly and are vacationing together later this year! 

This isn’t to say our renovation has been without hiccups. We have our fair share of those. Like when the stone fabricator figured out the quarry sent the wrong slabs ! (Thanks again, Marcelo!) or that our plumber installed the wrong bathtub filler and went MIA for the last several weeks instead of communicating what was going on. Turns our out builder’s wife had been hospitalized and the plumber (who works directly for him) was overextended. Had we known that at the beginning of this project it would have allowed for us to plan better and not have such high expectations on scheduling.

Gratitude: We are beyond grateful for being able to live with my sister and brother-in-law (and their pooch Darwin!) and disrupting their normal routine & home life. They have made this unpredictable time as enjoyable and comfortable for us we could hope for and it’s been great to be able to hang with them on the regular. 


Disappointment over missed deadlines, disappearing plumbers, delays, delays and more delays. We’ve moved our move-in date so many times, I can’t count what iteration we are on. I had to move it again last week. I was feeling like total garbage. I was depressed and anxious and really very on the edge. There were more than a few nights/mornings this past week where I felt like I would tear up if someone even looked at me wrong.

Aggravation over feelings of helplessness; rounded out by layers of anxiety and POOF! That’s me in a nutshell these days. 

Emotions are a funny thing. Sometimes they’re rational and sometimes they’re not. 

Takeaways & Advice for preparing yourself for any project large or small. 

Having clear communication between yourself, your general contractor and your subcontractors is key. That is one of the most important lessons we learned throughout this process. It prepares you for inevitable delays and construction issues. It helps to manage your expectations on issues such as scheduling, installation, lead times and drying times.

Which leads me to another important lesson we learned the hard way. Whatever time line you agree upon with your builders, I would add 2-4 weeks to it. I realize this sounds insane but it helps prepare you mentally for the home stretch. I have found the last few weeks of #birchroadreno  to be the most difficult. There are time consuming projects at the end of a massive renovation such as painting, staining the floors, and plumbing tie-ins, that can’t happen until everyone else is out of the work space. Knowing this ahead of time allows you to plan for the final few weeks.

I realize not everyone would have the luxury of living with family. We are incredibly lucky to be able to bunk with Julie and Ryan over the last few months. It’s emotionally exhausting – renovation and moving, never mind if we would have had to find temporary lodging – which many people must do. The cost whether it’s emotional or financial can be the deciding factor for some weighing a home renovation.

This whole process has been a giant learning experience. While I knew we were in it for the long haul, being so close to the finish line has created such a mix of emotions. I tell myself that anyone would have a hard time managing them. 

……right?? Hope I’m not alone!

Another postponement really put me in a funk this past week. But still, there is a light at the end of the tunnel – we only moved the movers by seven days. As I write this, it’s full speed ahead for this upcoming Saturday which coincidentally is the 6 month anniversary of when we closed on the purchase of #birchroadreno. That’s gotta be a sign, right?

-Rustic Acres Design Co.

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