1. Figure out what you want the contractor to do, then give them the information up front. Obviously there may be one or two small things that will change but you should have a basic idea what it is you expect from your contractor at the onset, so they can give you a close estimate on price and time, and so they can plan other projects accordingly.
2. Hire people you TRUST and then trust them. If you have zero confidence in your contractor you are not going to be able to chill out and let them do their jobs. Contractors do not work well when they are feeling constantly watched like a hawk, or when you are underfoot “just checking” on every little detail of every little move they make. Hire someone you feel good about, and then let them do their work. They will do a better job, I promise.
3. Speaking of details: It isn’t finished until it’s finished! If you were drawing a picture or writing a story and someone was looking over your shoulder nit-picking every wrong line, or misplaced word on your first draft you would be more than a little annoyed and your confidence would start diminishing, right? It’s frustrating when you are not yet done a project and someone is in your face asking you if you are going to touch up this or make sure of that. As an artist, one of my biggest pet peeves is when someone asks about a drawing I haven’t finished and then sit there telling me it doesn’t “look like” what I said it was or that it needs “more of this” or “less of that”. It isn’t finished! Sit back and leave the little piddly details alone. Unless you see a huge, glaring oversight- BACK OFF! Your contractor knows that there is an edge that should be rounded a bit more, or there are a couple little spots on the wall that need touching up. It gets done as a “finishing touch”. The term means that we go through and touch up any small imperfections BEFORE it is finished. Trust.
4. Don’t change your mind! Once you have hired the contractor and told them what they need to do, adding one or two small things is not a huge deal. When you add more work, or change your mind on colour/texture/size/shape etc. multiple times it messes with the entire process. Your contractor goes into a job with a plan of what needs to be done first, in what order, and what the timing of each part is. When you constantly add projects it messes up all of that timing. It pushes back every part of a project, not just the one part you think you are adding to. Oh, you need the trim painted the same colour as the wall? Say it at the beginning so we don’t waste hours cutting in around the doorways. You decided you aren’t going to need to rehang that plant after-all and need the hole filled? It should be mudded when everything else is so we don’t have to wait for the sanding to be done in order to finish painting that wall.. Seriously. Do some research before you start renos and make a plan so that your contractor can make their plan as well. Otherwise you are in for serious setbacks, and the cost will increase.
5. Finally: Get out of the house! You being there running around us is distracting. Also, it is stressful on you. Don’t watch. Don’t worry. Just go out and find something else to do. If you have never done renos on your own you won’t really know what is going on anyway, and will probably stress about every little thing (See above) and if you have done renos you will expect your contractors to do things exactly the way you do. The fact is, everyone has a way of doing the job that works for them. I know it is hard to leave your precious home in the hands of professionals, but you hired us for a reason. Remind yourself of that and let us do our thing. And hey, what better excuse to treat yourself to coffee with a friend, or a relaxing walk through the park?
I am feminist. I believe in paying people what they are worth, regardless of their physical anatomy, treating people with respect and kindness, equality and everything that goes with it. I have a feminist partner, who also believes in equality and treating everyone with respect and kindness. I completely agree that both men and women are capable of earning money, staying home with kids, and making their own personal decisions to do either or both. My partner works outside of the home, and I stay home with our kids for now. At times in our relationship we have both worked, and therefore both share household responsibilities, and child rearing. I am thrilled that men are more involved in the lives of their children than they have been in past generations.
Why am I mentioning all of this? I recently saw a post on Facebook sharing an article about how men should stop saying “we’re pregnant”. The poster’s comment was “I agree. My husband has the same kid as me but without the stretch marks”. I immediately felt annoyed, and a little bit sorry for men like my partner. Women cannot decide what we want. We have miles to go to achieve anything resembling true equality, and I completely understand that men do not go through the physical symptoms of labour. Trust me. Every part of me hurt, I felt ill all the time, didn’t sleep, and got annoyed when my partner would jokingly comment that he was “tired too” or “sympathy eating”. However, I hear women all the time talk about how they wish their partners would be more involved in the pregnancy, and birth, and child rearing. It is difficult for men to get involved as they don’t physically carry the child, but they can go to doctors appointments, feel for kicks, and be there in a loving supportive way. In my opinion, my partner saying “we’re pregnant” or “we’re having a baby” was his way of being excited and showing that we were in this together. I would think that this would be a good thing. Unfortunately, women say they want men to be more involved, and then complain and give them shit for their attempts… do we want them to be involved or not? If the answer is “yes” then for the love of the universe just le them be involved! Stop taking everything so damn literally!! Of course he knows he isn’t actually pregnant! (If he doesn’t know you might want to kick him the the junk and explain that if he wants to trot around acting like he is going through the same pain as you that during labour there will be one kick every couple of minutes for countless hours… might put it into perspective.)
I’m just sayin’… figure out what you want… and when men start trying to actually do what it is we ask of them, give them some credit… after all, anyone who has potty trained a puppy knows that it can be a slow process but any step in the right direction is celebration-worthy.
Have you ever noticed those ” baby on board” signs on cars? If you haven’t, they are little stickers you can put on your vehicle warning other drivers that they should stop driving like assholes because you have a baby in the car. There are two problems with these. First, the stickers are so small that the person has to already be driving on your bumper to read the warning. People who put tiny bumper stickers and warnings on their cars about not riding their asses are just inviting people to hit them! People are generally curious and want to read your stupid two point font bumper sticker and are willing to ride your bumper and take their attention off the road in order to do so. Secondly, how about a sign that says “human on board”? I mean, I realise that even I myself am more cautious and wary of stupid drivers when my kids are in the car with me. That said, I don’t have any more of a desire to die in a fiery crash if my kids aren’t with me. Do any of you want to be in an accident just because there was an absence of mini-humans in your car? I don’t see any hands… Frankly, if you need a tiny warning sticker telling you that there is an infant present in order to recognise that getting to an appointment on time isn’t worth killing someone, maybe you shouldn’t be driving. Asshole.