What It’s Really Like During the Process of a Home Remodel
Anyone watching a home renovation television show might get the impression that remodeling is a breeze. When the crew shows up to start work, the homeowners disappear for what seems to be just a week or two, presumably staying with nearby family or in an equally convenient retreat.
In the real world, most of us remain in our homes during the remodel process. As detailed in our Frequently Asked Questions, a real home renovation takes anywhere from three weeks to three or more months, depending on the scope. Preparing yourself for this both logistically and mentally will help you and your family move through the process with as little heartache as possible.
Tearing It All Out
The first stage is usually demolition (aka demo) and it’s one of the messiest. On an up note, depending on the age of your home, you might get to discover interesting artifacts as the walls come down! You can make a major contribution to the tolerability of this stage by doing two things: first, move all of your personal belongings out ahead of time and in a manner in which you can still find things and operate; and second, cover everything! Last year, we worked with a family on an extensive kitchen remodel that also involved moving walls on the first floor as well as major floor system repairs. In anticipation of their first floor being a work zone for a couple of months, they established a kitchenette of sorts in the corner of their living room area. Folding tables with the microwave, air fryer, and most importantly, the coffee maker, as well as inexpensive shelving used as a pantry. We helped them out by running temporary power to the area. For the most part, the morning rush went off without a hitch!
Nearly all home-improvement and box stores sell drop cloths of some sort, made from either canvas or plastic. Trust us when we say it’s much easier to lift the corner of a drop cloth to find what you need (think dishes, cups, silverware) than it is to have to hand wash each and every item you need each day because it’s covered in dust.
Your refrigerator can stay plugged in, but often with extension cords and pushed out of the way of the major work areas. This means your water line will be disconnected….and that means no ice or filtered water. Believe it or not, box stores and online retailers still sell those plastic ice trays we remember from childhood. Easy and inexpensive solution! Speaking of old school, you will also be hand washing dishes (we will leave your sink hooked up with temporary countertops (read: plywood). An old-fashioned dish drainer will make things more manageable.
Shining A Light
One place you do not want to find yourself is in the dark. There may be a day or two where the area under renovation is disconnected from your home’s power. Before you find yourself coming home at the end of the day and flipping light switches to no avail, we recommend that you bring a couple of lamps (lightweight floor lamps are ideal) to the nearby area. Easy to move and remove!
The scenarios we’ve described are things to bear in mind during a kitchen remodel. For bathrooms, it’s a little easier. Yes, you’ll still want to box up your belongings and move them (covered) to whichever bathroom you’ll be using temporarily. But since the majority of homes have at least one other bathroom, it’s easier to fully vacate the bathroom under renovation.
Renovations that add on to your existing home, rather than remodel it, are a bit different. For starters, there is no demolition to be done, and there is nothing for you to pack up since the space doesn’t yet exist. Considerations for additions include where the materials, including a sizeable lumber package, will be placed (driveway vs backyard?) and the impact on your outdoor areas. Nearly all longer-term projects also require a portable toilet, so think about where you want that located, and try to make peace with the notion of seeing it on the daily.
Outdoor projects such as patios, pool houses, sunrooms and detached garages cause far less disruption to your household, but more disruption to your lawn. Consider the type of grass you have and the time of year when scheduling your project.
Shudder and Shake
A final thought: sound. There is going to be noise. Sometimes a whole lot of it, sometimes less. If you work from home, have young children with nap schedules, or older children with homework, consider how you want to handle this. Unfortunately, noise is an inherent component of construction and cannot be avoided. However, you can get a better idea of what is happening when by keeping in communication with our on-site supervisor about the schedule and planning ahead if you need to be out of the house completely for the extra high-volume days! Oh and take pictures off the walls surrounding the renovation area – you’ll be glad you did!