Monday, February 8, 2016

The positives of remodelling, renovating our homes

Bob Weinstein | Living Better
Reflecting on my prior columns about remodelling and renovating our homes, I tended to focus more on the negatives rather than the positive side of a remodelling project. The reason for concentrating on unforeseen problems, hidden costs and surprises was to open homeowners’ minds so that they approach remodelling projects prepared for all eventualities, especially expensive surprises that could turn a relatively simple project into an overwhelming and expensive nightmare.

Over the past decade, the DIY market has catapulted into a multi-billion dollar niche industry. What better evidence than the proliferation of DIY magazines, newsletters, and especially DIY websites and network and cable television shows? A wealth of information is available on virtually any home project. For the most part, the information is excellent and comprehensive, especially if it’s coming from knowledgeable and articulate professionals. By the same token, some of the information is too simplistic, because it stresses project positives over negatives, when both ought to be given equal space and importance. While I don’t always hit my mark, my goal is to give readers the whole story — the truth — so they approach all projects, simple or complex, with open minds prepared for all eventualities.

Looking back, I failed to spotlight the positives, which are the reasons why we undergo the expense and headache of a remodelling or renovation project, and the accompanying upheaval, which turn our lives topsy-turvy. Temporary chaos is disconcerting and stressful, and we can’t wait till we return order and structure to our nests, and our daily routines.

That said, here are some positives to consider if contemplating a remodelling or renovation project:
Increase value of home. Although disconcerting and disruptive, most remodelling projects increase the value of our homes. Realtors throughout North America say that updating and remodelling bathrooms and kitchens can significantly increase the value of our homes, for example.

Maintain structural integrity. Our homes are no different than all the inanimate objects in our lives, such as our cars, trucks and the myriad electronics and technological gadgets, from cell phones and video games to televisions and smart homes that make our lives easier and more efficient. Over time, pipes break, wood rots, paint fades and electrical wiring and plumbing deteriorate. Whether we do the work ourselves or hire people to do it for us, there is no escaping obligatory home-maintenance projects. Fail to maintain our homes, and they will go to seed.

Opportunity to clean house and eliminate clutter. Remodelling projects are the ideal time to delcutter our homes. Many people, myself included, have a hard time getting rid of stuff they no longer use. During the upheaval of a remodelling project is when homeowners see the futility of hanging onto things that serve no purpose. It’s an opportunity to either give stuff away to people who could use it or throw it away if it serves no purpose or is broken.

Change improves our lives. Scholars and social scientists have written countless books and articles about our ambivalence toward change — why we fear it and why it’s so vital for improving our lives. People fear change because they’ve become so comfortable in their routines, they reason that they must be the best way to do things. But that’s only an excuse, a flawed justification for maintaining the status quo. To improve and better our lives, we must change the way we do things. To achieve that end, we must embrace the unknown and take chances. This applies not only to our homes, but to all aspects of our lives — our feelings, attitudes, jobs and friends. Once we embrace change and see the benefits, a door opens in our minds. We become more flexible and open-minded, and welcome the excitement, fun and process of discovery, all of which make change so vital for learning and growth.

Bob Weinstein is editor-in-chief of Edmonton-based the Global Times, a news and commentary website, author of SO WHAT IF I’M 65 and an obsessive do-it-yourselfer.

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