Home remodeling projects disrupt your family’s routine for months and have the potential to cause a great deal of stress and anxiety. When the remodeling involves only an addition to the existing house, it is possible for life to go on fairly normally despite the dust barriers and some noise. But most remodeling projects involve a major invasion of existing space. There is only so much a family can do to cope with the chaos of a renovation project, especially if the project shuts down major sections of the home for long periods of time. Preparing for the new tensions and altered living conditions should be a priority.
Quality communication is the prevention and cure for many of the remodeling headaches you’ll encounter. Talk early and often with your contractor; understand the timeline upfront and be prepared for delays. Supplies are often delivered behind schedule, and custom orders can take months to arrive. Weather and labor issues will also interfere with progress. Because your contractor might be working on multiple projects simultaneously, problems at other job sites could pause work on your remodel. Home renovations almost always take more time than you expect. Staying in contact with your contractor will keep you in the loop—and allow you to keep your family in the loop.
Be prepared for things to cost more than you initially expected. The larger the project, the higher the potential for unforeseen expenses. You could also change your mind about the design or materials during the construction phase; if you decide to go through with changes, costs typically increase. Keep in close touch with your contractor for revised estimates. Small increases add up and will result in sticker shock if you haven’t kept yourself up to date.
For multiroom, major remodeling projects, you are faced with a decision about packing up or toughing it out in the construction zone. It is possible to have your entire home remodeled and remain a full-time resident; you’ll just need to remodel one section at a time and muster over a year’s worth of extra patience. Renting another residence or staying with relatives are other options. These options come with their own stresses; however, they provide you with a respite from the chaos.
Even smaller remodeling projects may be most easily survived by relocation. Two areas in particular—the kitchen and bathroom—are difficult to give up for very long. The hassle of living without these rooms may justify the financial burden of temporarily moving. For those committed to sticking it out during a kitchen or bathroom remodel, here are some tips to ease the stress.
If possible, work with your contractor to keep certain areas of your kitchen available while construction is underway. Maintaining access to your refrigerator, for example, makes things much easier. But whether or not you’ll be able to use parts of your kitchen during the renovation, you will need to move most things out. Find a space—preferably with a working sink nearby—to set up a temporary kitchen. When you empty your cabinets, keep a place setting for each member of your family and box the remaining dishes. Take small appliances from your existing kitchen and set them up on a table in your temporary kitchen.
Use the temporary sink to wash dishes, being careful that food doesn’t clog the pipes. Plan meals ahead, perhaps by preparing several days’ worth in advance and storing them in a freezer. If your main refrigerator is unavailable, buy or borrow a small one. If the weather is pleasant, rely on your outdoor grille as a cooking appliance. And of course, restaurants are an ever-available alternative to cooking for yourself.
As with a kitchen remodel, a bathroom remodel can be made easier if the bathroom can remain partially functional for as long as possible. However, also like a kitchen remodel, renovating your bathroom will typically require a window of complete inhabitability. Plan ahead by designating another sink in the house as a bathroom sink stand-in. If you have no other bathrooms in your home, you might need to rent a portable toilet and find another place (like a gym) to shower. Clearly it may be worth the expense to find other accommodations during the time when your bathroom is totally out of commission.
Keep the End in Mind
Keeping in mind the finished product and tracking the project’s progress help you keep things in perspective. Be flexible, and be honest with yourself about whether you have the patience to live in your home while it is being remodeled. Even if you choose to stay, be sure to get out on a regular basis. Find peace in places outside your home while construction is underway.