I have some sweet, patient clients who sent me this cartoon recently which summed up their feelings for living in their home during a major remodel. As a designer, I go through one home renovation project after another. The pain for homeowners is on my mind, but I can go weeks without thinking about it and it’s something I need to remind myself of. Living for weeks and months with a home that’s in disarray, non-functioning, invaded by loud-talkers who come and go and sometimes forget to close doors, tell you they’re turning power off, tell you they need to jack-hammer all day, or need to listen to hard rock at top volume to get through the day is not fun – not even remotely.
This gets me to my first tip:
Relocate if you can during construction: “Remodeling is a big inconvenience in your life, it’s dirty and there are people in your house all the time who are going to wear on you.” (From 6 Home Remodeling Project Tips to Avoid Overspending). If you can get into temporary housing nearby it will improve your outlook on the construction process dramatically.
Donate your trash: Currently in Denver, there’s a lot of tear out going on. Assuage your landfill guilt (if you have it) and think about re-use. “Before you begin a remodeling job, invite the local Habitat for Humanity chapter to remove materials and fixtures for later resale. “About 85 percent of a house is reusable,” says B.J. Perkins, Habitat’s ReUse program manager, in Austin, Texas. “We can do a total takedown, or do a cherry-pick job and take the cabinets, the tub, the sink, and so on.” (Check out Denver’s Habitat for Humanity ReStore) (Article from 21 Ways to Save On Your Remodel) This is tax deductible and I’ve noticed that it helps people feel better about their project right out of the gate.
Keep an open mind: “While it’s great to start with a design in mind, stay open-minded, willing to adapt, and work with the inherent strengths and constraints of the space you are working with. Unexpected items and issues will always come up that affect the original plans, and you have to be open to embracing change. The biggest downfall is ignoring the parameters dictated by the situation, and trying to force a vision—the space itself will tell you what will work, and what won’t.” (Quote from Zachery Leung for Remodelista’s Best Amateur Kitchen: Rustic and Refined in Toronto This can happen early on in the process for my clients. A small thing that I see a lot during a kitchen renovation involves the island. Most people really want an island in their kitchen, but most homes don’t have the room for one.
Set extra funds aside for “surprises”: This is really important. Most jobs have something that will cost more than anticipated. Be ready for small and large surprises. Some of these lead to things that are great for the design, or a blessing in disguise, but they will cost you more money than you might think.
Don’t Plan a Party Ahead of Time (or have a due date): Do plan on your renovation taking longer than your contractor tells you. “You can save yourself a lot of misery if you just anticipate that the project is going to take longer than you think.” (From 7 Things to Expect when Living Through a Home Remodel)
Listen to the Experts You Hire: If you know exactly what you want out of your remodel, that’s fantastic. However, there will probably be things that will come up that you will be unsure about. At this point, lean heavily on your team. Your contractor and your designer go through renovations all year long, year after year. Even if they don’t have a strong opinion one way or another on something, they will have pros and cons for you to consider and advice based on other projects.
Humor: A sense of humor and an appreciation for the absurd helps soften the potential pain of a large, home renovation. “Life is too important to take seriously.” Corky Siegel