Raising A Traveling Tribe:: Renovations Abroad

by Tina on June 1, 2015

in Decor, our home, Raising a Traveling Tribe

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I never imagined that having my house in a state of construction could be so stressful and I have a whole new respect for anyone who has ever had any kind of renovations done on their home.  We did some renovations on our home in Morocco so this isn’t our first time dealing with something like this outside our home country, but it definitely makes us aware of the differences between our countries and the stress of doing renovations abroad.

Here in Denmark, standards are high and a day’s work is never more than 7 hours a day, but what do you do when the person your landlord has hired won’t work more than 3 hours a day, disappears regularly from the work site and doesn’t come back, and stretches a 3 week job into 8 (and still isn’t finished!)  (And still has the other half of the roof to finish!)  Our property has been damaged, our privacy invaded, our work spaces and studio ripped apart and last night when it rained hard… the new roof was leaking.

So, today, we are taking a deep breath, having a long talk with the land lord, and trying to find a piece of tranquility, even if it’s in the window sill of our bedroom.

5 Tips on Surviving Renovations Abroad:

1. Have patience.  Things aren’t always done the same way as they might be back home, so be ready to expect some differences that will require some patience.

2. Hire a local to help.  In Morocco we had a good friend who was also Moroccan who stepped in and acted as foreman for the job and he was quite skilled in being fair but expecting a good day’s work out of the workers.  Since he was local, it helped a lot to have him speak with the workers.

3. Be willing to Compromise.  While the quality of work is not something that we recommend compromising on, choosing your battles may be necessary at times.  The number of hours a job might take or a little extra mess might be things to  let go on.

4. Ask a Local for Advice.  This is the most vital piece of advice we can give because a local can tell you if you are being unfair or culturally insensitive, which can help you gain perspective on the situation you are dealing with.

5. Be Ready to Assert Yourself.  After checking with a local or two, if you still feel like the situation is out of hand, then it’s time to step up and take action.  (This is always a last resort for us, and we find it to be the most difficult because we hate confrontation, but sometimes it’s necessary to resolve matters.)

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Have any of you dealt with renovations abroad or in our home country?  How did you survive the mess and the stress?  (Consulting Jack Daniels does not count!)

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Laura June 1, 2015 at 6:20 pm

Having lived through a fairly large renovation where the builder took a second job and disappeared from ours completely, among other missteps, I could write volumes on what I learned during the process, but each chapter would begin with “take lots of notes.” Details should begin on day one and include all discussions, dates and times, and agreements about the process. You never know when things will go awry and when they do it’s impossible to back track and remember everything you didn’t write down. If the job goes perfectly, then worst case is that you have kept a log of the first ever home construction that went perfectly. As they say, hope for the best and plan for the worst.


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