Renovation issues can be complex and costly to resolve. And because they often involve multiple parties and maybe even an element of confrontation, they can become nightmares for conflict-averse introverts.
I was grimacing so hard reading Stacked’s report on a renovation gone wrong. Hacking a bad wall, shoddy work, and miscommunications galore — I mean, talking shit that hits the fan. But I also thought, Heng ah, luck will never come to me. (Yes, I have a Singlish inner voice.)
If you followed the Introvert renovates series, you will know that I prepared and over-prepared for my own apartment renovations, from creating my own 3D renderings to carefully selecting the right interior design company. And I think that did a lot to mitigate the huge renovation disasters.
Unfortunately, since there are so many moving parts during a renovation, problems are almost guaranteed. I’ve had my share of problems when renovating my own apartment, although I’ve been lucky that none of them were too bad. But there were incidents that still caused one or two sleepless nights.
As an introvert, I avoid tense situations like the plague. But when my dream home was on the line, I had to grab the bull by the horns. In dealing with renovation issues, my goals were to find a solution and avoid conflict at all costs.
If you’re reading this article thinking “What’s the matter? then this article is obviously not for you. But for my shrinking purple comrades, sorting out renovation issues can be a herculean task.
Whenever a problem arose during my renovation, here is the process I would follow:
- State the problem
- Communicate, communicate, communicate
- Find a solution
It’s a simple process, but each step is essential to achieve a satisfactory result.
I am going to detail a problem that appeared during my renovation, and I hope you will better understand each step of the process.
I was having a new air conditioning system installed in my apartment, which involved installing pipes and ducts.
In part 2 of this series, I wrote that I wanted to keep the architectural lines of my apartment as clean as possible. Thus, the placement of the air conditioning ducts had to be considered very carefully, so that they could be concealed.
Hans, my interior designer, coordinated the installation of the air conditioning with the air conditioning company and the work was completed within a day.
When I visited the apartment later that night, I discovered that the air conditioning ducts had been installed in the master bedroom in a location that could not be easily concealed. The main bathroom drain pipe also cut a path into the bathroom that would leave it exposed.
1. Calm down
So there I was, standing in the middle of a construction site, feeding a growing hole of terror in my stomach and my mind racing with questions. Who is at fault? Can I fix this problem? Will I have to spend more? Am I going to have to live with this?
My heart was pounding, I was panting and starting to break out in cold sweats – classic signs of an anxiety attack.
Over the years, one thing I’ve learned the hard way is to avoid texting or emailing anyone when I’m anxious, or even when I’m upset or angry. When I have, it never ended well. In addition, it is necessary to have clear ideas to approach the problems of renovation.
Whatever your reaction to discovering a renovation problem, don’t react until you’ve regained your composure and composure. Physiologically, your disturbed body needs 10-30 minutes to run its course and return to baseline. If you can sleep on it, even better.
I left my apartment and came home for a restless night.
2. Bring out the problem
Once you’ve calmed down, you have an important decision to make: is this problem worth talking about? What’s at stake?
The next morning, I weighed my options. I really wanted my apartment to be perfect. Could I live with unsightly air conditioning ducts? After all, it did not affect the operation of the air conditioning or the rest of the house.
If I decided I couldn’t live with it, I could risk additional expense and delays in the renovation schedule. More importantly, I would put my friendship with Hans in jeopardy.
There were a few slip-ups that I could ignore, but not this one. The chute would be the first thing I would see every morning when I woke up. And I saw the drain pipe every time I used my bathroom since it ran down the wall right next to my mirror.
I took a deep breath and texted Hans about the issue, being as clear and detailed as possible about the junction issue.
“This is not acceptable,” I concluded before hitting send.
There’s a reason why I’m friends with Hans – we have very similar temperaments and react to problems in the same way. This means he probably saw my message, had a mini panic and had to calm down before reacting.
I received Hans’ response an hour later. But when Hans starts to tackle a problem, he’s a great communicator.
3. Communicate, communicate, communicate
When it comes to solving problems, Hans wants to communicate as precisely as possible. Where text fails, it will send voice notes. If that fails, he will call me. Where words completely fail, he will send pictures with his doodles on them.
Not only that, he went a step further and put himself and the AC company in a WhatsApp chat group. It’s a vital step, so we’re not all stuck in endless rounds of he-said-she-said. (That’s why choosing a good interior designer is so crucial.)
We quickly understood why it had happened. Hans and I had discussed how the trunking should be placed in the hallway outside the bedroom, which Hans had passed on successfully to the air conditioning company. But we hadn’t been so clear about the route for the trunking to take in the master bedroom and bathroom, so the installers just took the shortest route possible.
I also have to be extremely grateful that the air conditioning company staff were levelheaded and that our conversation didn’t turn into a blame game. Our chat included three groups of people working to solve a problem, all trying to be as objective and clear as possible in our communication.
4. Find a solution
We were all on the same page, trying to find a route for the chute that could be easily concealed.
In the master bedroom, we quickly decided that a short section of the trunking needed to be moved so that the wardrobe could be built around it. Because it was a small section of the pipe that needed to be modified, the air conditioning company was happy to do the job at no extra cost.
The drain pipe in the main bathroom was not so straight forward. We quickly realized that there was no other optimal route for the pipe. Part of the pipe would be hidden behind the vanity, but a section would still be visible above it.
I came up with the idea of boxing the exposed pipe and building a similar box on the other side of the bathroom. It looked as if the mirror had a frame and the offending pipe would be hidden from view.
In the grand scheme of a home renovation, exposed air conditioning ducts aren’t the worst thing that can happen, and there are parts I couldn’t hide. I know I’m very lucky that this incident was one of the biggest renovation issues I’ve ever had to deal with, and even luckier that it was resolved quickly and relatively painlessly.
But the situation could so easily have escalated into something far more nightmarish.
In a world that favors fast action and strong personalities, there are both pros and cons to being an introverted renovator. Our calmer character means we are less willing to raise issues to avoid conflict.
But when we face problems, we tend to be more cautious and level-headed. And we sin on the side of peacekeeping by bulldozing everyone to get our way.
For every introvert embarking on their own renovation journey, I hope my own experience has given you the confidence to make the necessary preparations, design calm spaces, and handle problems in your own way.
Introversion is an asset in such a complex and challenging undertaking as a renovation, so take heart, trust your instincts and build the house of your dreams.