Andres, Jim, Guiliano. Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of men. This can only mean one of two things — a) My 19-year-old daughter is home from university; b) I’ve entered the world of home renovations.


Yes, Liz and I are renovating. Every day our house is full of men. I never know when they’ll show up. I never know what they’ll want to do. It’s like I’m running a brothel. Except that the length of time they spend is way longer and I have to pay them. So, really, it’s like I’m running a bad brothel.


I now understand “worker speak.” For instance, “I don’t know why the last guy did it like that” is a standard opening remark to any job and means, “Whatever happens isn’t my fault, but if it works out, I’m a hero.”


And I participate hourly in conversations like:


Me: We’d like the dishwasher over there.

Contractor: Oh, it can’t go there.

Me: But there’s one there now.

Contractor: I don’t know why the last guy did it like that.

So what’s the one thing we can do when life hands us a difficult, frustrating situation? Whine and complain to anyone who will listen, of course. But, also, try to pass on what you’ve learned. Here’s my renovating wisdom.

Before you start any renovation, ask yourself this question: Am I really ready for this?

Answer: No. You’re not.

Wasn’t that easy?

Post photos around your home of fabulous, beautiful buildings such as the pyramids or the Taj Mahal to serve as inspiration. Not because this is how your place will look, but to remind you of how long it’s likely to take to complete.

Trust the old adage, “You never know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” So far, for Liz and I, this has applied to running water, electricity and the plumber we let go because we thought we could find someone cheaper.

Sometimes dreams have to be rethought. Three months ago, Liz and I dreamed of having a beautiful kitchen. Now we dream of not having a stove in the middle of our eating area.

Remember, renovations are like living. There’s no such thing as a schedule. Kindness beats out yelling every time. And the point when everything is lying in a heap of rubble on the floor is also the point when rebuilding can begin. Whether it’s a beautiful new kitchen, or a wonderful new life.