Ever take on a bold new challenge with no clue of what you’re doing?
That’s exactly what I did when deciding to gut renovate a Brooklyn brownstone. A gut renovation is when you strip down the walls and replace everything (new layout, new electrical, new plumbing, etc). At the time, I was addicted to home renovation TV shows and thought, I can do this! It looked like a fun side project - a new adventure. After only minimal research, I went all in and purchased a “fixer-upper.” It needed a lot of TLC, but I was optimistic. I was so excited. It looked so easy on TV! In reality, I was clueless.
Let’s think about this. To be a doctor, I have undergone 13 years of training, countless exams, and thousands of clinical hours. To renovate this building, I had watched YouTube videos. Prior experience? None.
Reality set in very quickly. It was like a cheesy part-comedy, part-scary 80’s movie. The building was filthy with funky smells everywhere. The ConEd guy thought I was crazy. "Is this a foreclosure?" he quipped. Just like a haunted house, I kept walking into cobwebs. There was a dead mouse in the kitchen. A homeless person started sneaking in at night to sleep. It was so creepy that I was afraid to be there after dark. In the climax of the HGTV shows, homeowners discover one surprise problem which costs a lot to fix. In my reality, this occurred almost every week. One day, after placing a heavy ladder next to a fireplace, the flooring suddenly gave way. The ladder crashed through a gaping hole and loudly clanged on the floor below. Peering through that hole, I simultaneously thought, "what the heck are you doing?" and "better stick to your day job."
Fast forward to today. I teamed up with Sweeten Home and MN Design Professional Corporation architects - they helped me like guardian angels. The hole in the floor was patched. The cobwebs were cleaned. The mouse was buried. Things got built.
Today, the project is almost done. Looking back, what have I learned?
➡️ Don’t be afraid to try something new.
➡️ When out of your comfort zone, things won’t be easy. That's OK.
➡️ There’s always help out there - seek it.
➡️ Most importantly: new, bold challenges are often the most rewarding!