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  • Carol Lang

5 Ultimate Tips to Thrive Through Your Renovation this Year

I remember the first time I lived through a renovation. Even as someone who spent years on construction sites, I was overwhelmed by the dust, debris, noise, and inconvenience.


This year, as families spend more on home repairs and rentals are few and far between, you might be looking into a home renovation and trying to decide whether to live through it or not. I'm here to give you some of my tried-and-true tips to live through the chaos and (mostly!) come out with your sanity on the other side.


There are times in the renovation - demolition, I'm looking at you! - when you might prioritize leaving your home for a few days. A short getaway to a hotel or family member's house can be a great change of pace. Really, though, if you go into it confident in great communication with your contractor, a schedule established, and a plan in place, you may even find the benefits outweigh the downside of the process.


Today, I'll be sharing my top five tips to not only survive living through your renovation but thrive in the midst of it! Being prepared and clear-eyed is critically important to staying sane and happy when your house is torn apart. Let's jump right in...


1. Set Serious Expectations


The first thing you'll need to do is set really clear expectations with your design team and the contractor. This means getting accurate schedules, understanding what spaces or zones will be disrupted, which ones you can expect to have unfettered access to, and how you and the team will be coming and going from your house.


It's better to get this out on the table early so you're not expecting to use a garage fridge during the renovation, only to find the garage is also blocked off and used for material storage.


Of course, sometimes project schedules change as we've seen over and over again this past year. COVID and weather events have impacted production lines, installer's availability, and item availability. The key, though, is navigating setbacks with clear communication and setting and resetting expectations as situations shift.


2. Designate a Dust-Free Zone


You will need to define some spaces for the contractor that are family-only and dust free. For example, if you're doing a big kitchen renovation, you'll have to find another space to set up a temporary kitchen and this space needs to be isolated from the construction dust.


Having this temporary living space clean and tidy will help keep normal activities flowing, and most importantly, help keep you sane. Be frank with your contractor from the beginning as to what your expectations are for how they leave the site at the end of the day and include this conversation in your contractor interviews.


If you're someone who can't live with the mess, a meticulous contractor will be a better fit, even if it comes at a higher price tag. If you know you're okay walking past a little chaos, you might not need such a high level of daily cleaning and site shut-down.


There will be times when you question why you're living through this chaos. Because you've established some normalcy (and are saving thousands of dollars in rent!) you'll be able to take that deep breath and keep going knowing the end result will all be worth it!


3. Take Time to Pack


I made a rookie mistake in my first renovation and didn't pack everything away neatly. I found dust in every nook and cranny afterward and spent way more time cleaning than I had time for.


Dust will get everywhere, even spots you didn't think were possible! So, if you can, remove everything from the area of work (your contractor will thank you!) and place it outside of the construction zone behind a zippered plastic door. Your contractor can provide the plastic. Add a heavy drop cloth over any furniture that can't be moved.


Know, too, that drop cloths and careful packing aren't perfect and you should still plan on a professional cleaning afterward. If you can store items in a basement or attic or offsite temporarily, it will make the move-in easier.


Many of my clients are ready for a refresh when they move back into their renovated space, so rather than storing older well-loved, over-used furniture, they donate it prior to the renovation and have new pieces ready to be installed when the contractor is done.


4. Don't Stray from Daily Routines


I am a creature of habit. My morning routine kicks off the day and gives me stability and comfort. If you can maintain your routines (as much as possible), you'll feel more like you and navigate the stress a bit more easily.


Don't think just because your home is disrupted that you need to reinvent yourself. If you're a homebody, don't imagine that you'll always be out and about to avoid construction. If you're someone who's always on the go, don't try to force yourself to stay home.


If you can set your coffee pot up the same way you always do, walk at the same time, have a similar "grab and go" setup for kids backpacks and school sneakers, you'll find you don't feel quite as crazed by the additional activity in your home. Creating a temporary kitchen with a coffee pot, toaster oven, hotplate, and a microwave oven, will keep you from the trap of sliding into the pizza 4+ nights a week! These are a few of my tried and true favorite portable appliances and you'll be amazed at how much you can create with this simple set-up. That Mocha Master coffee pot is an investment, but it will give you better-than-coffee shop coffee in your own home! I've had mine for almost a decade and can't imagine life (renovation or not!) without it.


5. Document the Disruption


The biggest benefit of living through the renovation is that you're there for quick answers to contractor questions and can see things as they're coming together. Sometimes, this is great - you'll be the first to ooh and aah. Sometimes, it's bad news - but you'll see problems or errors and can pause work before they become bigger problems.


If you do see something that doesn't make sense, flag it immediately. It could be that it's just a normal part of the process or it could be the result of an error or miscommunication and needs to be resolved. Again, timely communication is always the best practice.


Take pictures along the way - not just of the walls and floors, but of your family living and working through it. After our second renovation, I put together a quick little photo book, and seeing those 2- and 4-year-old smiles wearing play tool belts and holding plastic hammers makes me smile every time!


You can do this. Plan as well as you can, be ready for curveballs, and approach it with grace and good humor. It won't be easy, but I promise, the short-term sacrifices will be worth the end results.


If you're ready to get started on that home renovation, I've got your back! Contact us and let's get to know each other.


Warmly,

Carol

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