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Since 1995

How to Live in Your House During a Renovation

(Without Going Crazy)

How to Live in Your House During a Renovation Without Going Crazy

It seems early, but it really never is too early to start thinking about the holidays: decorations, parties and family staying for extended visits.

All of those things may have you stressing about not having enough space, or your space just not working for you anymore. It could be time for an addition or renovation. But if you want your project done by the holiday season, you’ll need to start right now.

Additions and renovation projects shouldn’t be entered into lightly. While a good contractor will do everything possible to finish your project on time and on budget, your life is still going to be disrupted for an extended period of time, and you’ll need to be prepared for that. Here are a few tips on how to live in your house while it’s being renovated (without going crazy):

Set up temporary living spaces
If your kitchen is being renovated, do yourself a favor and designate another space in the house as a “temporary kitchen” complete with mini-fridge, microwave, coffee pot, mini-pantry and maybe even an electric cooktop or griddle. Anything that will allow you to make simple meals, breakfast and the all-so important cup of morning joe. Set this area up away from the renovation zone to minimize dust and debris sneaking into the cooking space.

Make decisions in advance
Before you even sit down with your contractor, try to start making some basic decisions in advance. The more design and decor decisions you make in the beginning, the quicker the process will go. Knowing exactly what kind of flooring, cabinets, carpet, paint colors, tile, etc. that you want in the space before the project begins means you will be less likely to be held up by indecision or ordering delays. Making these decisions from the get-go will also help you stay on budget. If these decisions are difficult for you, invest in an interior designer. Meet with them before and during the construction process and make sure your designer and contractor have a good relationship so decisions are effectively communicated.

Manage expectations
It’s pretty likely that the renovation will take a little longer than you think. Rain, backorders, and life can and will get in the way. Whatever length of time the project is supposed to take, prepare yourself for an additional 15%. Then if it’s complete on time, you’ll be pleasantly surprised, but if it’s a little late, you’ll be ready. Additionally, prepare yourself for the inevitable dust, debris and noise that is part of the renovation process. No matter how professional and courteous your contractor and their subs are, when a house is worked on, messes will happen. Put your OCD on the back burner and tell yourself it’s OK that the house isn’t perfect during this time. Put on some noise-cancelling headphones or take a walk around the block – whatever you need to do to keep your sanity.

Be clear with your contractor
Part of managing expectations is being clear with your contractor about how your life works and when constructions crews absolutely can or cannot be in your home. If you have small children, give the construction team a “bed time” that they need to be out by. Make sure you communicate any specific dates where a crew will not be able to access the house. Tell the contractor your expectations about how their crews should access your home and act when they are there. Swearing, loud music or inappropriate behavior is not something you should have to put up with during the renovation process.

Get a storage unit
Even if you don’t have a lot of furniture or items in the space that’s being renovated, trying to find space for those items in other areas of the house is going to get old quickly. During a renovation, your life is already out of sorts. Don’t make it worse by having random boxes, chairs or tables sitting in the way of other areas of the house. Additionally, you may want to remove breakable or valuable items from your home, even if they’re not in the space that’s being renovated. Dust and debris will likely get into every room in the house, so maybe that antique Persian rug should go into storage for awhile. Valuable artwork hanging on an adjacent wall to the renovation could get knocked off with one swing of the hammer. Better safe than sorry.

Try to make it fun
Hard as it may be, there are ways to make this process fun. Use the time you’re dislocated from parts of your home to try that restaurant you’ve been hearing so much about. Renovation getting the best of you? Plan a weekend get away or take a short vacation to get out of the house and away from the mess. Plan a trip to see family or just stay at a bed and breakfast in town and be hometown tourists for a day. Let the kids make some small design decisions or help them create some art for the new space.

Renovations are not the easiest things to live through, but choosing a good contractor and following these tips will set your project up for success. And when the final product is ready for you to enjoy, you’ll forget all about the labor pains.

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