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Diary of A Fixer-Upper: During a Renovation, Personal Space Can Be Hard to Come By

Even if I didn’t put myself out there by chronicling my renovation for you all, I still would have lost something in this process: the idea of “personal space.” I started with a house that wasn’t mine—I was a guest myself when I first visited, touring it

I may have moved in all my personal belongings, but the idea that anyone arriving on the doorstep has free rein to tour the house, as I once did, remains. Friends want to see every nook and cranny, even the parts I still cringe to show (namely, the upstairs bathroom). They get full descriptions of the six-month history of each room—and every dime I’ve spent on it. It won’t be long before I’m providing media packets with color photo spreads.

I still remember being a little nervous about letting a plumber into my old apartment, slightly skeeved at being alone with a strange, burly dude in my living quarters. Now it’s just part of the game. I throw my door open to whomever, take them through the house, and have no compunction about bringing them to the master bedroom or giving them a key so they can come and go as they please, sometimes for months.

Which is why it’s so important to work with people you trust. I’ve never hired a contractor who didn’t come with a personal recommendation because I knew I couldn’t babysit them on the job. This gave us all flexibility to proceed as fast as possible, rather than trying to match up our schedules. Of course, I still keep valuables locked away or out of view, and I’ll change my locks when this work is finished, but none of it would do any good if I was working with a disreputable character. It’s important to foster a relationship with the people you let into your home. I’m not best friends with my kitchen contractors, but I have given them a ton of referral work, and have tipped them whenever I paid invoices.  

I’m not sure I understand tipping contractors. It’s certainly not required, and being totally oblivious to the concept at first, I didn’t tip my HVAC or flooring guys at all. The person who recommended my kitchen guys mentioned that it’s a nice gesture to tip if you think they’ve done exceptional work. I’ve felt good tipping them because they’re relatively inexpensive and they’ve been excellent about responding quickly to problems. I also know that I will want to keep calling them back for work, so hopefully a little extra cash puts me near the top of their customer list. But perhaps most important, I entrust them with my house and its contents while they work.

Oh, yes, speaking of the kitchen. Pictures of the finished product next week!

Heather writes about her home renovations adventures every Tuesday. To read Heather's home adventures from the beginning, click here. 

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