You recently moved into your new home and it just doesn’t have your personality splashed all over the walls.
You fell in love with this house because when you first saw it you knew it was full of possibilities. But now you’ve settled in, and you’re wondering, is it worth going through a renovation? Even though you are yearning for an updated kitchen and a bigger bathroom.
I get it.
A renovation is a big undertaking and living through one is no picnic. Every aspect of your life is turned upside down.
The house is a dusty mess.
Strangers are in and out every day.
You can’t find anything because it’s all packed up in the spare bedroom.
There are deadline delays and unexpected costs.
But worst of all, you’re making coffee on the patio each morning in the middle of construction debris and carpenter tools.
It’s kind of like that movie The Money Pit with Tom Hanks, “Two weeks? Two weeks?” (or so it feels…)
Your life will feel disjointed and chaotic, but the end result is a beautiful home, which is worth the temporary disruption.
If at all possible, I recommend you move out during your renovation. It’s easier for you and easier for the contractor.
You don’t have to bother living through the mess and the contractor doesn’t have to bother with worrying about water or electrical turn-offs, cleaning up all the tools each night, or disrupting you too early in the morning (they generally like to start at 7am).
But perhaps, finding a hotel or family’s house to crash through the project comes with its own challenges, making it impossible.
So why not plan ahead and enjoy the process? This attitude goes a long way, believe me.
Here my 5 tips for not only surviving when living through a renovation but thriving in the midst of it.
Being prepared is key to staying sane and happy when the house is in disarray.
1. Set Serious Expectations
The key to planning well for a renovation is setting expectations with the design team and contractor.
How long will it take? In my design process, I prepare a construction timeline that is shared with you, the contractor, and the subcontractors, and is updated weekly. We also have weekly “team sync” meetings so you and everyone else knows where we are in the project, any issues that have surfaced, and most importantly, to celebrate the wins for the week.
What rooms will be disrupted? Before any demolition begins the team discusses the logistics of the project. How the spaces will be segregated, how the rooms not being renovated will be protected, and how your privacy will be respected.
What will you and won’t you have access to in the house? Concessions and compromises are key during a renovation, after all you want the workers to be able to get their job done as quickly as possible. If it means you will be relegated to one room and one bathroom, it is a trade-off you will want to make. During the renovation, we will be texting (a lot) back and forth, so you know who will be knocking at your door (at 7am) and which days no one will be on the job site (yay – you get a little break!)
It’s important to be flexible because even though we have a timeline chart with specific dates for everything, the calendar WILL change. There are always unexpected issues that arise throughout the project, but you will know immediately what is happening and how the team will be navigating those setbacks.
If only I had a house x-ray machine so I could see inside the walls!!
2. Designate a Dust-Free Zone
To help you maintain your sanity, you’ll always want to designate a space in the home that remains neat, clean, and organized as a “sanctuary” from the dust and noise of the project.
Because let’s be honest here, no matter how much you plan, you will become irritated with it all from time to time. And that is normal. Just recognize that it will happen (patience is a virtue, but we all have our limits).
And although you might be questioning why you even embarked on this renovation endeavor, if you have a sanctuary (albeit tiny) to step away from it into some sense of normalcy, you’ll be able to take a deep breath and gather yourself.
3. Take Time to Pack
Dust will get into and on everything, so packing up ensures your stuff remains safe.
Pack away everything in and near the rooms that are being renovated. Anything that can’t be boxed up, needs to be covered with heavy drop cloths.
I also recommend if you have anything that could be damaged from dust (like artwork and photos) taking it off-site temporarily. And make sure any valuables such as jewelry or sentimental collections be stored away and out of sight.
At the end of my projects, I bring in professional cleaning crews because your home will need it!
4. Don’t Stray from Daily Routines
Routines are as important as ever when living in a construction zone. By maintaining normal daily routines, life will feel slightly less disrupted and your family will navigate the stress a little bit better.
When I remodeled my own home a few years ago, I set up a makeshift kitchen in the back bedroom with a card table, microwave, coffee machine, and blender. I stocked it with paper plates, cups and plastic utensils. This worked out well to keep up with family meals.
I always suggest to my clients that they move the refrigerator to the garage or back patio.
One of our clients used the construction time as a chance to go on a Jenny Craig diet and ordered all the microwavable foods and smoothies which they were able to prepare easily. So not only did they get a new kitchen, living room, and dining room, they lost a few pounds!
And don’t forget the pets – taking Fido on his daily walk will be good for you and for him.
5. Document the Disruption
I take pictures and videos of my job sites every day. And you should too!
This is a big, life-changing event, and you want to document it. Take pictures of the progress along the way, but also take pictures of the family and how you “camped” out during construction.
Feel free to ask the pros questions anytime they arise and in general embrace the inevitable chaos knowing it is short-lived and leading toward an end goal.
You’ll be glad you have documentation of this crazy time, because believe it or not, you will look back fondly at the time it took to create the beautiful home you envisioned.
Being flexible and trusting the process (and your designer) will help you survive and thrive during a renovation.
It only takes preparing well, planning ahead, and embracing the chaos to successfully live through (and maybe even enjoy) a renovation.
If you’re ready to get started on that home renovation, we’ve got your back! Contact us and let’s get to know each other.
Until next time,