Managing Renovation Expectations

Jennifer Brouwer of Jennifer Brouwer Design is about to share some aha moments you probably havent thought of! Here is what she has to say from experience >>

I have been writing about hot topics seemingly forever and frequently I am asked questions that inspire me to discuss a topic that I feel more people need to hear or learn about. In this particular case it addresses managing expectations. It is such a huge part of any renovation and of course one of my roles as a design professional.

I felt it is prudent to showcase “managing expectations” as a topic and highlight common challenges and perhaps offer some tips on how to avoid, or at least manage them so the process does not become unnecessarily stressful. Renovations always have challenges, this we know, so why not adjust your expectations and accept that perfection is not an option.

I study various personality traits. I read books on “types of people and what they are like as a general rule. Some studies identify personalities by colour. If you’re blue you like X, if you’re a red you like Y. Each study is trying to identify what you prefer? How do you need to communicate? What does a successful project mean to you? How much minutia and decision making can you bare? Do you want or need full control of all situations or do want the professionals you are paying to handle all the details?

The world of renovation is a tricky thing. Not only are there the client’s expectations, but there are also the expectations of the contractors, designers, various trades-people and support staff that are in place to facilitate the project. Everyone has a belief or thought as to what will happen. Please consider some of the tips, below and ask the difficult questions, so you can have peace of mind knowing that everyone concerned knows how you want the project to proceed. This eliminates mis-communications, and creates an open relationship with everyone moving in the same direction.

Here are a few examples of “I never thought of that”, a-ha moments!

You hire a painter. Is he to paint the walls, the trim, the doors and ceilings? Is there repair work to be done? Who is responsible for the repairs and prep work? Are you fussy? Do you expect every flaw and imperfection to be repaired to your satisfaction? Is the  paint included in the price? What type of paint is being used? What happens if you do not like the colour once it has been applied? I think you may begin to understand that painters are not all created equal. Some may just paint. They are not drywallers however most do small repairs. If you are clear about the scope of the work and the level of quality you expect, they can and will oblige. This is an extremely important conversation.

You hire a tile installer.  You need to have a discussion regarding the layout of the tiles, the cuts, the direction of the tiles, the grout colour – who will choose it and who will supply it? If you are a perfectionist, a row of cut tiles in a corner of a shower stall or at the base of a tub will be less than appealing. I work with the same trades frequently so over time they have come to know my likes and dislikes, what I expect from them. However in most cases you are beginning a relationship with the various trades and it is so important that you clearly communicate your expectations. Ask the right questions so everyone is in the know, and no one will be disappointed. This is an extremely important conversation.

You hire a design professional. Do you want them to make the majority of the choices, or are they there to help and guide you? Do you have very distinct ideas that you want included in the design? Do you want drawings? Do you want to be included intrinsically? Or do buy into the philosophy hiring a pro means, fairly hands off for you. (Final Vito power only?) Do you want the project managed? What is your definition of project management? Be clear, If you do not know that’s ok? We can help by determining a scope of work that clearly outlines who is responsible for what. This is an extremely important conversation.

Remember everyone is different. Try understanding the personality styles you are dealing with. Use techniques that help you understand and respect how others need to work. I am a high level, fast, and visionary personality who, at times, needs to make a valiant effort to include each step. Even after many years working as a designer sometimes I forget to ask a client the who’s, when’s and where’s of the project. I can tell you with certainty that if you communicate upfront it will aid in the ease of your project and build relationships that facilitate moving forward. Honesty is the best policy. Talk it through. There is always a solution to every problem. Communicate and take the extra time to voice your expectations. You’ll be glad you did!

Getting from the before to the afters, in one piece, will a great result you love, is much easier if expectations are managed and an experienced professional is leading the team.

Jennifer Brouwer Interior Design, author of this feature, is a full service Interior Design firm in Markham, Ontario. Jennifer would love to talk to you about designing and managing a renovation for you.

You can also find a full list of all our global mentors [ who are top professional interior designers ] on our Mentors Page.


Subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to receive updates.

One Response to “Managing Renovation Expectations”

  1. LeAnne Bunnell Says:

    Great post Jennifer. Clear and concise communication is the way to get through any renovation process unscathed! Thanks for the reminder, and tips.


Leave a Reply