When S*** Goes Sideways on Your Remodel

Picture of Dawn Matze, the Woman Builder

Dawn Matze, the Woman Builder

Dream. Build. Love.

We jump into a renovation project with visions of grandeur, thinking only of the gorgeous end result. It’s no fun to think about what could go wrong. 

But then…your home renovation becomes like the movie ‘The Money Pit‘.  No one shows up when they are supposed to; things are on backorder indefinitely;  nothing is turning out as planned. What can you do to get the train back on its track? 


First, take a deep breath and rejoice…

…there is no blood and no one got hurt.

Breathing releases the stress and allows you to think with clarity. It’s okay to not always know what to do.

Give yourself a moment trusting that your mind CAN solve it if given the chance. Your brain is amazing if you get out of the stress phase and see it as an opportunity to optimize your home, turning lemons into lemonade.


Contain the emergency if there is one.

Give the problem mouth to mouth resuscitation first and then get the pulse back.

I use this term lightly because rarely is there ever a problem I’ve not been able to solve after taking a few minutes to noodle on it. 

If gas is leaking, water is spraying out of a pipe, or there’s an electrical short, learn how to shut all of these things off properly and call the expert.  It’s imperative you gals know where your utilities are in case of a problem.  Most homeowners are clueless here. Keep your plumber’s and electrician’s info handy for this reason.

“In my thirty years of experience I’ve never come across a problem that has been unsolvable. “


Become excellent at solving problems…

…and drop the whining after 5 minutes.

I know it’s tempting here to dramatize and story-tell the disaster but let’s face it – your end result is to get to the beautiful and amazing stuff.  Often in my career the worst situations become assets in the end. I’m shocked at how often this is the case.  Let me share an example:  

I was building a huge home. In the framing stage we found out that the structural engineer completely forgot to calculate out any structural support on a very, very, tall window (25’).  The city missed it on permit review and we were in the middle of framing. Yes you guessed it – there was absolutely no support in the wall to hold the glass up!  I was so upset.

Then, I realized that it was a simple fix. I simply called the engineer and made them calculate it out.  After all, that’s what I paid for – and didn’t get. 

In the end, the wall of glass was the focal point with a deep inset of structural material that really gave it a beautiful inlay look and feel. A real center stage beautiful wall.


Don’t be afraid, embarrassed, or shy about reaching out for help.

Other homeowners and DIYers are happy to help you. However, I go right to the experts when I’m confused about a problem – someone I trust.

My suggestion is an inspector or experienced sub-contractor or engineer in his field. Remember that you’re gathering information to make a great decision on the problem.

Don’t do what some random guy suggests. Be sure that they know what they’re talking about. Many opinions rain on us when an ‘expert’ is needed. They come out of the woodwork. Men love to rescue women out of a problem – yeah that may sound sexist but it happens all the time. Make sure to find the right solution for you.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m the first to take someone’s help; I just want to make sure it’s coming from the right intention and knowledge.


Let the issue sit overnight.

 Remember that sometimes you come up with a superb and perfect solution when sleeping, working out, showering or driving.  Our minds are geared to solve dilemmas. Trust that yours will too. I’ve never been misled by this bit of wisdom. Take the time (as long as it’s not a safety or emergency problem). You WILL come up with it. 


Adopt the philosophy that all things can be figured out.

This is so true in construction.  In my thirty years of experience I’ve never come across a problem that has been unsolvable. 

Educate yourself on why this happened, then solve it as soon as you come up with the fix.

It’s a wonderful feeling to know that you can take care of whatever may occur on your project. Taking the emotions out helps a lot.  Okay –  shit happened – now lets clean it up. Easy Peasy!

Happy Renovating,

Womanbuilder.com uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.