In late December 2011, when I learned that construction would begin soon on the vacant lot next to me, I asked my contractor friends, “What will it be like?” They agreed unanimously that it was going to be hell, but I wish they’d told me specific details instead.
Right away, I got that the experience was going to tax me in multiple ways, so I decided to get involved by writing about it on this blog. My purpose was two-fold. By getting involved with their project–asking questions, taking photos, trying to learn what they were doing–I had hoped to mitigate any personal reaction I might have to the process. LOL! I also believed the information would be valuable to others in a similar situation, especially if they had the means to get out before it began.
Even better than my photo-journal, I now realize, would be a list of specific details about how you might be affected by construction. Therefore, with love, I now offer what I wish those contractors had said to me last December:
- Workers will take all the parking spots on your street, sometimes even blocking your car when it’s parked off-street in your driveway.
- Workers will leave not only construction trash in your yard, but will add their soda cans and lunch wrappers to the mix.
- The contractor will not be on the premises for you to discuss your concerns.
- The vibrations of heavy equipment–backhoes, idling trucks, dirt-pounding devices (similar to jackhammers), multiple nail guns, compressors for insulation, can make you and your pets physically ill.
- You will incur expenses you would not otherwise have incurred–like vet bills for cats with diarrhea caused by vibrations, noise and mayhem.
- The noise will be unbelievable; there will be no way to “mask” it with fans, music, or headphones for at least the first four months.
- Your friends will not understand and will say things like, “Just consider it as white noise,” adding to your stress.
- If a friend should stop by, it will be one of those rare instances where the noise is actually bearable and they will judge you for making much ado about nothing. (Like that rattle in your car that disappears when you take it to your mechanic.)
- After four months, the continued noise of saws, hammers, and multiple boom boxes on the roofs with volumes adjusted for workers who wear earplugs will grate on your nerves.
- Knowing that the contractor got multiple variances to build more buildings on the lot and closer to existing buildings than typically allowed will add to your irritation.
- The persistent noise, invasions (their ladders propped with their legs under your stairs), mess, and mere presence of so many people and vehicles will get under your skin and make you jumpy as a cat in a roomful of rockers.
- You’ll discover, much to your amazement, that you’ve become hypersensitive to all noise, including things you never even noticed before–like trucks on the highway, lawn mowers in the neighborhood, or even kids playing at the park.
- If you are a work-at-home person, you will be displaced because you will not be able to work at home under these conditions.
- You will try other venues, like working in the library, but it won’t work for you if you’re a writer accustomed to silence or you are not willing to leave your valuable laptop and research notes and other stuff unattended when you go to pee.
- You’ll begin to resent friends who ask why you don’t work in a cafe as they imagine real writers do.
- You’ll try getting up four-five hours earlier than usual and doing as much work as you can from two or three to eight a.m., but that will only wear you down because the stress has already weakened your body, mind and spirit.
- You’ll try “sleeping during the day”–certainly not at home, but in your car in various locations off the main thoroughfare–but when the temperatures are in the teens, that soon will get old.
- Sure you could work at night, but after getting up at dark-thirty for months and dodging bullets all day you won’t feel like it.
- Finally, you’ll get creative and spend your days at “relaxing” venues like an outdoor hot springs or a forest, but you won’t actually be able to relax because you’ll resent being forced away from your home and your work, ever mindful of how much work you’re not doing.
How long until you can “go home again?” No information at this time, more than five months into the experience. Similar to the Direct TV ad that states, “Don’t buy cable and lose your hair,” it’s best not to be anywhere near there.
Till next time, I’ll be Skating Thru the debris of my life, doing what I can to keep on keeping on. How about you? Got a new challenge to your work? How are you coping?