By Herb Lagois

To say these times are unique is an understatement. Sad, too, of course. Many of us have loved ones and friends affected ‒ or worse, who have died ‒ because of  COVID-19. As an example, our friend’s dad, a healthy, active 90-year-old, passed away because of the virus. To make it even more difficult for our friend, his dad lived in England.

The pandemic has found those of us who love to travel suddenly not being able to, and we don’t know when that will change. So many people have lost their jobs because of it. Front-line workers, the heroes of our times, live with particular risk and anxiety. What does the future look like? Does anyone know?

Yet, within the negatives, there are positives. Thanks to video conferencing, we’ve seen our kids more than we would have “normally”.  Our friend, unable to travel to his Dad’s funeral, could attend virtually.

I, too, have been attending business meetings virtually. I suddenly saved at least 10 hours per month by attending these meetings. (That’s 120 hours a year.) Twenty to 30 years ago, can you imagine having been able to communicate the way we do now? (Remember those flip phones, or better yet, rotary phones?)

The early days of COVID-19 were confusing and uncertain for my colleagues and me. For the safety of our clients and our team, we ultimately decided to close our business. We work in people’s homes. We couldn’t take the risk.

As a result, many members of our team had an opportunity to recharge their batteries, be with family and children, and get to projects around their homes. I re-leveled our interlock patios – something that I would not have done without this opportunity.

From a business perspective, the shutdown allowed us to focus on our systems and processes, those little things that will make our experience even better. It also gave us pause to develop solid COVID-19 protocols. And so, in June, we made a “soft start”, completing ongoing projects and warranty commitments. July was our “hard start” with new projects.

Who knew the construction world would explode as it has? The direct result is shortage of material (such as deck and landscape), extended delivery times (10 to 12 weeks for cabinetry), and professionals (such as pool installers) booked to capacity.

I’d like to share a tip. If you are considering a renovation or the building of a new home, take this time to interview architects, designers, RenoMark renovators, builders. Be sure their process makes sense for you. Be patient. Our industry is very busy right now.

You might consider this, too: Why rip out your kitchen cabinetry and then wait three months for new cabinets? At my house, I’m looking at our dated ensuite. It’s all I can do not to start tearing it apart.

Yet I always preach taking the time needed to design, make all the selections, invite trade partners to assess existing conditions, and carefully plan for the success of construction. By doing so, you’ll know what it costs and how long it will take. You can order in advance: imagine having materials when you need them; or imagine not worrying whether materials will be there on time. The important thing to remember is planning, planning, planning. Don’t rush for the sake of rushing. (For our ensuite, I just need to listen to my sermons.)

Even as our futures remain uncertain, my belief is that there will always be positives. We just have to watch for them.

May we continue to be kind, safe, positive ‒ and to appreciate our opportunities. And may we be ever grateful for all our wonderful front-line and essential workers who keep us going every day.

Herb Lagois is the owner of Lagois Design-Build-Renovate.