Anyone who has ever had a remodel done (by “done” I mean hired a paid professional to handle it) or have tackled the DIY remodel might be have been a victim of the New Project Syndrome. Many have suffered from NPS and its related dramas & euphorias. A sufferer might not even be aware they are in the throes of the syndrome until a group of friends surprise them with an intervention.
NPS should not be confused with EFBS ~ (Empty Food Bowl Syndrome). It occurs only in animals & if you have pets, you are probably very much aware of this syndrome and how to treat its’ symptoms.
The symptoms of New Project Syndrome are described in the following stages:
Yes, Dearest Darling, Love of My Life, we are finally going to get a new bathroom. Ah, the smiles! Oh, the happiness, joy, bliss! High hopes & expectations abound as you dedicate your spare time to magazines, trade shows, stores & web pages devoted to the glories of the latest and greatest trends in Bathroom & Spa décor, accessories and whatnot. During this stage of NPS you and your spouse may encounter feelings not unlike those of your honeymoon. Bottles of Chardonnay are relished in celebration. “I Love You” echoes in the halls. These emotions during the first stages of the syndrome should be enjoyed to the fullest because it’s during this time that you and your spouse will still love each other. You are getting that bathroom you’ve always dreamed of, he’s getting … well he’s getting something, too. But be informed that significant changes in your relationship will soon occur during the next stage of the disease~~ so drink up and be merry!!
A lot of time is spent running your ideas by your friends and family. They have noticed the happy change in the both of you! Some are secretly jealous (another syndrome all together) while others are genuinely happy for you. But beware, becoming obsessive with your project (cramming it down your friends’ throats) is not good. You will need these friends later when the Post Project stage of the syndrome is reached.
It is noteworthy to mention that the stress involved in finding the right contractor and floor plan is not noticed or felt during this period. It does however, rear its ugly head in the stages to come.
2. THE PROJECT BEGINNING
As the syndrome develops, significant changes occur in the emotions of the sufferer(s). The stress that was easily ignored during the DECISION stage has gained power, putting strain on the earlier feelings of happiness and joy. The giddiness experienced in every new discovery or idea has made way for indecisiveness and uncertainty. Will we do it ourselves or hire it out? Who will we hire? Will we pay as we go or finance? Will the friendly neighborhood bank president loan us the funds? Will he scalp us or treat us right? These and other questions invade your thoughts. Bottles of Chardonnay are consumed in doubt and apprehension. The conversations between you and your spouse are still be on a friendly basis… after all, you are doing this together, right? Right?
It is during this stage in the illness that you interview potential contractors, designers, architects and various other gypsies to find the best ones for you and your banker. Your emotions at this time will waver between: “What were we thinking considering this guy?” to “Yay!! We found him!” The confusion might get overwhelming at times & the worry of hiring the wrong guy might cause feelings of uncertainty. On the bright side ~ there is a marvelous sensation of joy in finding the right contractor, architect or other gypsy, so savor the moment!
Also known as ENDURING, this stage can be the most detrimental to your relationship. This happens not only between you and your spouse, but with your friends, co-workers, neighbors, & family, as well as the postman & delivery driver that used to love you (you know the one that could find you anywhere in town?). It may seem your only friend is that Bottle of Chardonnay. As well it might be. Your husband grows distant as the Change Orders pile up. Laughter no longer rings in your household, the dog stays whimpering in his house, your friends won’t reply to emails… your days become dismal and depressing as the project wears on past the promised deadline. There will be angry feelings toward more than a few people in your life right now. You might surprise yourself with some rather dark ideas (see last entry in “3Rs”). Your life revolves around the remodel. Strangers and dust invade your home. You hide your belongings for fear of thievery from the roofers. And the dust! Did I mention the dust?
This stage of New Project Syndrome is the longest and hardest to recover from, but eventually the sun begins to shine in your marriage again. The roofers are gone (you took their pictures and got the license plate numbers off EVERY vehicle that entered your drive way), you once again have a toilet that’s both in the house and flushes properly, the paint is on the new walls, there is finally light at the end of the remodeling tunnel. This induces a marvelous feeling of relief.
4. SETTLEMENT STAGE
The fun and games that is the “Final Settlement Meeting” with your hired professionals can be miserable. Let’s face it. In the beginning you had a decorator’s dream (and an affordable bid to accompany it). But after the compromises and change orders (some mysterious in nature) that final bill is downright scary. Feelings of panic and dispair once again invade your soul. Your husband looks at you in an accusing manner as the paid professionals explain what where when and why the bid price doesn’t match the final amount. It’s a baffling process but there is an end to it. It’s called “Just write the danged check and get these people out of my house!!!!” Oh~ and don’t share that celebratory bottle of Chardannay with them, they can afford their own.
5. WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
This could also be referred to Post-Remodel SubSyndrome. You walk around the house noticing that the kitchen suddenly looks a lot more “dated” than it did just months before. The old floors suddenly stand out, that wall where the washer and dryer used to be has drain holes,plumbing pipes and an exhaust vent still in place. What to do? The new part of the house is shiny and new. The rest of the house is NOT. How you deal with this can make or break your marriage. This is very dangerous ground. Your feelings right now might prompt you to ask your spouse about the next remodel project. Wouldn’t a new porch look so good? How about those repairs on the sheet rock in the front bedroom? New matching windows in the rest of the house (that aren’t painted closed) would just really look great. The list can be endless. My advice to you when these overwhelming feelings of Post-Remodel SubSyndrome begin is a familiar one. Grab a bottle of your delicious best friend, go into the new room(s), drag up a chair, and enjoy what you and your spouse have accomplished. Forget about what needs to be done and relish in the bliss that is a finished project! Over time both the newness and the comparisons will fade. You will know you have recovered from NPS when your friends start coming around again. The emails will be of a personal nature (instead of FW:fw:fW;fw s), and “I Love You” will once again ring in the halls.