Remodelers are always on the move, jumping from one project to the next within the span of a day. Whether it’s adding a new coat of paint, installing a window, talking on the phone with a client, working on estimates for a project, or managing a crew, the job requires someone who is flexible and attuned to constant stimulation. It’s not entirely out of the question, then, that those who thrive in the remodeling environment may do so in part because they have adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
According to the National Resource on ADHD, roughly 10 million adults in the United States have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, better known as ADD and ADHD. And many are still undiagnosed. While often diagnosed in kids, ADD/ADHD can last into adulthood and often go unrecognized.
Characterized by low levels of attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity, ADD/ADHD is hereditary and may skip a generation or two before it manifests itself. “Essentially the inability to organize and plan, [and difficulties with] self-monitoring, self-regulation, prioritization, time management, and working memory are core symptoms of ADD,” says Matt Reid, a certificated ADHD coach. Those who have ADD/ADHD work best under pressure and are more focused when they are passionate about a project. Sound familiar?
Remodelers with ADD/ADHD often thrive in the hands-on component of the job, yet struggle once they move to managing a business. “Most people get into remodeling because they like the actual work, not because they want to sit and do estimates and proposals,” Reid says. “But once you start running your own business you are not doing what you got into the business to do.”
ADD/ADHD runs along a spectrum. You can have ADD, but not have hyperactivity. ADD isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if not diagnosed or handled properly, it could hinder you down the road.
Remodeling Magazine received more than 25 stories from remodelers and contractors across the country who have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD or suspect they have it. Many respondents noted that having ADD/ADHD has manifested itself in their work.
“I never thought about it until now,” says Jack Berganti, a general contractor based in Long Island for Construction and Design Services. Berganti was diagnosed with ADHD in the 1980s and only recently made the connection that the stimulation of remodeling is what got him into the business. He notices his ADD/ADHD in his daily workflow as he juggles a variety of projects all at once, from creating a floor plan for a new home addition to selecting kitchen cabinetry for a project.
Berganti is like a lot of remodelers—always busy and with his attention spread across different directions. Those with ADD/ADHD thrive in this type of environment. “If I have one task to do it, it takes me forever to do it,” Berganti said. “I just sit there and procrastinate a bit and find myself doing things other than getting the task done. When I’m busy and have to be in six places at once, that’s when I work the best; when I’m under pressure.”
The same can be said for Michael Uphall, CEO and founder of Probuilt in Ontario. Uphall sees a great deal of connection between those who have ADD/ADHD and their success in the remodeling industry. “I think because of the industry itself and the way it goes, renovation and remodeling work, it’s chaotic and it’s not the same all the time,” he says.
Uphall was diagnosed with ADD/ADHD four years go and says that while everyday tasks, like remembering his keys in the morning, sometimes are a challenge, he sees his ADD/ADHD as a badge of honor. “If I had the choice I’d still choose having ADD. I like it about myself. I can do a lot of things that other people can’t and I’m good with that.”
In order to handle everyday tasks more easily, those with ADD/ADHD develop coping strategies. One remodeler, who wished to not be identified, said he has developed so-called “traps” to help him deal with the management side of remodeling. He gets into work before everyone else to conduct the business side of his work, writes everything down so he doesn’t forget, delegates tasks that he finds uninteresting, and schedules specific times throughout his day for site visits.
“I come in at 6:15 a.m. and get two hours to get caught up on emails, getting my mind ready for the day,” he said. “I used to just arrive a few minutes before 8 and the guys are asking me questions, and then I’m busy, and by the end of the day I haven’t gotten any of my management work done.”
Prior to developing these coping strategies, he felt like he was going 90 miles an hour by getting a little bit of everything done but not seeing anything to completion. “There’s a fine line between people you lead saying, ‘Boy, he’s on the go and getting a lot done,’ to ‘Wow, this guy is out of control,’” he said. At the end of last year, he went to get a psychological test to determine whether or not he had ADD. After three tests, he was diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and has since been able to rearrange his life to work around it.
Just as this remodeler set “traps” to help himself succeed, a common strategy among those with ADD/ADHD is making lists (often more than one). Remodelers like Uphall and Berganti say they also set email reminders and use their smartphones to send themselves voice memos throughout the day. Aside from coping mechanisms, medication prescribed by the right doctors can help some feel more focused and at ease, allowing them to stay on task.
While not all remodelers have ADD/ADHD, there does appear to be a strong case to make that the remodeling industry lends itself well to those who do. The rewards and constant challenges that arise offer those with ADD/ADHD an opportunity to succeed.
“I think a lot of adults who are getting help because they run their own contracting business are fine,” concludes Reid. “But could you do it without working all weekend? Without having to worry about begin done with the project? Could you do it more effectively and be 20% more profitable if you were more on top of things?”