June 6, 2022
June 6, 2022

How To Handle Renovation Problems: An Introvert Renovates (Part 5)

Renovation Journeys

How To Handle Renovation Problems: An Introvert Renovates (Part 5)


Trunking2 after
6 min read

Renovation problems can be complex and expensive to rectify. And because they often involve multiple parties and perhaps even an element of confrontation, they can be the stuff of nightmares for conflict-averse introverts.

I was wincing so hard reading Stacked’s report on a renovation gone wrong. Hacking a wrong wall, shoddy workmanship, and miscommunications galore – I mean, talk about sh*t hitting the fan. But I was also thinking, Heng ah, lucky never happen to me. (Yes, I have a Singlish inner voice.)

Entry Before 1

If you’ve followed along the Introvert Renovates series, you’ll know I’ve prepared and over-prepared for my own flat renovations, from creating my own 3D renders to carefully selecting the right interior design firm. And I think that went a long way towards mitigating any huge renovation disasters.

Unfortunately, because there are so many moving parts during a renovation, problems are almost guaranteed to happen. I faced my share of problems during my own flat renovations, although I was lucky none of them were too serious. But there were incidents that still caused a sleepless night or two.

As an introvert, I avoid tense situations like the plague. But when my dream home was at stake, I had to grab the bull by the horns. In dealing with renovation problems, my goals were to find a solution and avoid conflict at all costs. 

If you’re reading this thinking ‘What’s the big deal?”, then this article obviously isn’t for you. But for my fellow shrinking violets out there, dealing with renovation problems may be a Herculean task. 

Whenever an issue cropped up during my renovation, here’s the process I’d go through:

  1. Calm down
  2. Surface the problem
  3. Communicate, communicate, communicate
  4. Find a solution

It’s a straightforward process, but each step is essential in getting to a satisfactory outcome. 

I’ll detail one problem that emerged during my renovation, and hopefully, you’ll understand each step of the process better.

The Problem

I was having a new aircon system put into my flat, so that involved installing piping and trunking.

In Part 2 of this series, I wrote I wanted to keep the architectural lines of my flat as clean as possible. So, aircon trunking placement had to be considered very carefully, so that they could be concealed.

Hans, my interior designer, coordinated the aircon installation with the aircon company, and the work was completed during the day. 

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Trunking before

When I visited the flat later that night, I found the aircon trunking had been installed in the master bedroom in a location that could not be easily concealed. The drainage pipe in the master bathroom was also tracing a route in the bathroom that would leave it exposed.

1. Calming down

So there I was, standing in the middle of a work site, nursing a growing pit of dread in my stomach and my mind raced with questions. Who’s at fault? Can I get this fixed? Will I have to spend more? Will I have to live with this?

My heart was racing, I was panting, and beginning to break out in a cold sweat – classic signs of an anxiety attack.

Over the years, one thing I’ve learned the hard way is to avoid texting or emailing someone while I’m anxious, or even when I’m upset or angry. When I have, it’s never ended well. Besides, one needs a clear head to tackle renovation problems.

However you react to the discovery of a renovation problem, do not react until you’re back to your calm and collected self. Physiologically, your disturbed body needs between 10 to 30 minutes to run its course and revert to baseline. If you can sleep on it, even better.

I left my flat, and went home to a fitful night’s sleep.

2. Surfacing the problem

Once you’ve calmed down, you have an important decision to make – is this problem worth making a fuss about? What’s at stake?

The next morning, I weighed my options. I really wanted my flat to be perfect. Could I live with unsightly aircon trunking? After all, it wasn’t harming the function of the aircon or the rest of the home.

Trunking2 before
Trunking before

If I decided I couldn’t live with it, I could be risking additional expenses and delays to the renovation timeline. More importantly, I would be putting my friendship with Hans in jeopardy.

There were some slip-ups that I could overlook, but not this one. The trunking would be the first thing I’d see every morning when I wake up. And I’d see the drainage pipe every time I used my bathroom since it was running down the wall right next to my mirror.

I took a deep breath and texted Hans about the problem, being as clear and detailed as possible about the trunking problem.

“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 the same way. That means, he probably saw my message, had a mini freak-out, and had to calm himself down first before reacting. 

I received Hans’s reply an hour later. But when Hans starts to tackle a problem, he is an excellent communicator.

3. Communicate, communicate, communicate

When it comes to problem-solving, Hans is about communicating as accurately as possible. Where text fails, he’ll send voice notes. Where those fail, he’ll ring me up. Where words fail entirely, he’ll send images with his scribbles on them. 

Not only that, he went one step further and put himself, me, and the aircon company into a WhatsApp chat group. This is a vital step, so we’re all not stuck in unending rounds of he-said-she-said. (This is why choosing a good interior designer is so crucial.)

We quickly ascertained why it happened. Hans and I had discussed how the trunking was to be placed in the corridor outside the bedroom, which Hans had successfully relayed to the aircon company. But we hadn’t been as clear about the route for the trunking to take in the master bedroom and bathroom, so the installers simply took the shortest path possible.

I also have to be extremely thankful that the aircon company staff were levelheaded, and our conversation didn’t devolve into a blame game. Our chat comprised three groups of people working to solve a problem, all trying to be as objective and clear as possible in our communication.

4. Finding a solution

We were all on the same page, trying to find a route for the trunking that could be easily concealed.

Trunking1 after

In the master bedroom, we soon decided that a short portion of the trunking needed to be shifted so that the wardrobe could be constructed around it. Because it was a small section of the trunking that needed to be modified, the aircon company was happy to do the work at no extra charge.

Trunking1 after2

The drainage pipe in the master bathroom wasn’t as straightforward. We soon realised that there was no other optimal route for the pipe to take. Part of the pipe would be hidden behind the vanity, but a section would still be visible above it.

Trunking2 after

I came up with the idea to box up the exposed pipe, and construct a similar box-up on the other side of the bathroom. It would look like the mirror had a frame, and the offending pipe would be hidden from view.

Happy Ending

In the grand scheme of a home renovation, exposed aircon trunking isn’t the worst thing that could happen, and there are portions I wasn’t able to have concealed. I know I’m very lucky this incident was one of the most major of the renovation problems I had to face, and even luckier that it was resolved quickly and relatively painlessly. 

But the situation could have so easily spiraled into something far more nightmarish.

In a world that favours fast action and loud personalities, there are both advantages and disadvantages to being an introverted renovator. Our quieter character means we’re less willing to raise issues to avoid conflict. 

But when we do confront problems, we tend to be more cautious and level-headed. And we err on the side of peacekeeping over bulldozing everyone to get our way. 

For every introvert who’s embarking on their own renovation journey, I hope my own experience has given you the confidence to make the necessary preparations, design quiet spaces, and handle problems in your own unique way.

Introversion is an asset in an endeavour as complex and challenging as a renovation, so take heart, lean into your instincts, and build your dream home.