Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Woah to Renovating Woes

So you've decided to embark on a renovation. Congratulations! But like anything else in life that is a benefit, you may have to endure a bit of hassle before you can realize the benefit. During the process of remodeling, dealing with inconveniences is one thing but having your house ripped apart needn't involve outright suffering.

The key to avoiding unnecessary suffering is really two fold.
First, understand and manage your expectations. Then make preparations to help you through the rough patches.

Lately, I have been dealing with kitchen and basement renovations more than any other type of remodel. Living through a kitchen renovation is probably the most common experience of home-owner renovations that most people have. We recently renovated our own kitchen, and while our renovation process was an extra-ordinary one, it still had its moments of discontent and inconveniences. I cannot promise that it will be an easy process, but as with anything else in life, your memory of the inconvenience will never be as bad as the actual experience. Remember that and take comfort in it. This is by no means an exhaustive list, it is however, a few things I've learned over the years.

Talk to your contractor before any work starts.
Ask for a realistic time frame of how long you can expect to be without the full use of your home. If it's a kitchen renovation, prepare yourself to be functioning kitchen-free for at least four weeks (often times more). Don't get too attached to that number though. Psych yourself up for a longer period of time and you'll get a happy surprise at the end rather than the opposite.

Ask your contractor to help.
Sometimes, you homeowners find they are able to set up a temporary kitchen somewhere else in the house. I have seen some where a simple under-counter fridge, and a microwave or toaster oven can save a lot of heartache, especially for those light breakfasts or lunches. Often times, a 220 line can be set up in a garage so that you can move your range out of the kitchen and into the garage to use temporarily (as well as the fridge). Ask your contractor too if its feasible to set up a temporary sink out there too (I mean, why not?). All you need are water supply lines, a waste line, some saw horses, a sheet of plywood and your old sink and faucet which are headed to the landfill anyway. Making yourself a temporary in the garage can be a life saver.

If setting up a range and a sink in the garage won't work, move the functions of a kitchen into the laundry room or a bathroom. A coffee maker, a microwave oven can be set up nearly any place in the home. Just try to plan anything else you need to help you create some semblance of normalcy. If you can establish a routine and try to continue to live as you normally would, you'll be ahead of the game.

Don't minimize the amount of time you'll be camping in your own home. A couple of weeks doesn't sound like a lot, but in practice it's a long time. What you're about to live through will be lousy, BUT IT'S TEMPORARY.

Realize, your house will be a mess for a while.
You are going to have to accept and live with it. Seal off the area that's under construction to try to minimize the dust drift into the rest of the house. You can minimize it, but you cannot eliminate it. Declare your bedroom as a safe room. Keep your bedroom exactly the way it was before the renovation started, unless of course your bedroom is a cluttered pile to begin with - then do whatever you need to do to un-clutter it and make it as restful as possible during this time. Don't pile stuff you've moved from around the house into your bedroom. Keep it so that when you close the bedroom door, everything will seem normal.

If you have sensitive electronics and valuable, fragile possessions; store them before work starts.

Your regular routines will be disrupted.
Leave extra time and understanding to cope with the changes. Everyone in your household will be affected so be gentle with your family and ask them to be gentle with each other. You may not realize now how much a routine affects people, but once that routine is mixed up you start to notice. Try to keep the routine as much as possible.

Don't spend too much time looking over the work in progress.
Set up regular meetings with your contractor and get a guided tour of the work in progress. Ask as many questions as you can think of, but remember that things look a lot worse before they can look better.

When it's all over, hire a service to come in clean.
Your contractor's crew will clean up after themselves, but they won't scrub. Hire someone to come in and do the scrubbing.

Again,this is not an exhaustive list but it's a good start. Positive experiences start inside and work their way outward. Try it!

Adapted from Paul Anater at Kitchen and Residential Design Blog.