An Agile Approach to a House Remodel

You might have noticed I've slowed my blogging in the past few weeks. I'm fine. I've been a product owner/customer for our new-to-us house remodel.

In the last several weeks, almost every single day, Mark and I have taken some time to go over to the new house to see the progress and provide feedback to the guys working on site. We do work directly with the site project manager. I don't know how he meets with the subcontractors (painters, plasterers, tilers, etc.) All I know is that we provide him feedback just about every day.

He tells us when it's time to select the: tile, faucets, bathtubs,  paint colors, new front door, decide on kitchen design, everything. We meet with the people who are our vendors. They send the specs or material to our builder.

When we were working on the design of the house, we iterated on it with the builder. We had at least three iterations on paper. Maybe four. We discussed how we would live in the house with him.

As we discovered things about the house, we modified the design. (Does any of this sound familiar?) Since it's a house, we haven't modified structural things, such as how big the addition is, or where the windows are. However, this week, we changed my bedroom closet. That was because I didn't understand the initial design, and I called a halt to where we were.

Our builder is great. We are trying to be great customers, too. It's a two-way street. This is why my blogging has been slow. I'm spending time at the house.

Today, I took these pictures, so you can see what I mean about making decisions about paint colors:

bedroom1 bedroom2 bedroom3 hallwayThe first three images with the blue colors are all in what will be our master bedroom. We were trying to decide between the more intense blue on the left and the other blue on the right. The painted-over colors are from when the painters mistakenly painted our bathroom colors on the bedroom walls.

The purple-gray colors on the right bottom image are from the hallway. We wanted to see what that color would look like in what has the potential to be a dark hallway.

You don't have to like our colors. We like our colors. Our house is full of teal greens, blues, and purples. We like those colors. If you've ever seen me in person, you might understand why. Those are my colors.

Being a product owner/customer is a new experience for me. It's time-intensive to do it right. You have to make a gazillion little decisions every single day. And, this is with a house, a product that is not malleable in every dimension. A product that is not changeable with a flick of the wrist.

Our house is supposed to be done at the end of May. It will be close. They might need a few more days. Why? Because the kitchen designer is not agile. She is also designing my office closet storage, although maybe not for long. I am running out of patience. (Me? What a surprise!)

Mark and I have really enjoyed the short cycles with this remodel. It's been intense for us. But, it's been great to see the house we want and need come together, and so quickly.

Agile works for house building, too. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

2 thoughts on “An Agile Approach to a House Remodel”

  1. Patricio Del Boca

    What a nice coincidence!

    I’ve been living the same story for the past month and a half… I’m also remodeling my house. We decided what to do with the walls once we changed the roof. How? Continous feedback and daily meetings with the Architects, also little reviews of the work done every week. (Inspect and Adapt).

    Today we refactored some piece of my beedrom. While working on the ceiling we found that the corner of the floor was a little bit damaged (it smelled) so we decided to do a little refactor there.

    Should we keep the plan or change it? We changed it a little bit, as a part of continous improvement on the house design. It wasn’t planned but on the go I’ve decided that was more important that the bottom things on the To Do list. So I made a simple exchange of tasks.

    I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to finish all the changes we designed at the beggining, but we’ve prioritized what was the more important things to do. I know that at the end the project will be out of budget, but I’m quite sure that the most important were done.

    Nice article!

    Regards from Argentina,


    1. Hi Patricio,

      Yes, we too have had some significant changes. Our builder has been terrific.

      We refactored the lighting placement in the living room/dining room/hallway long ago. I’d forgotten about that. Thanks for reminding me.

      Just today, we changed the design of my office storage. I needed the data from the designer: how deep was the counter top? How deep were the storage units? Could I pull out the drawers, or were they fixed? All of these possibilities change my agreement/disagreement.

      The details matter.

      I will have great stories the next time I teach a workshop 🙂

      Regards from Massachusetts. If we ever meet in person, let’s bring pictures!

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