Tips for Surviving a Remodel

Remodels can be scary and stressful! Not only that, but most people only remodel once or twice in their lifetime, so they aren’t always sure what they can expect their experience to be like, or how to handle difficult situations that can arise during a renovation. Renovations can last anywhere from a couple of weeks to a year (or longer if building new), so here are a few tips that I have used personally and have passed on to my clients to use when they’re remodeling.

The most important elements of a remodel actually happen before the project even starts. The first thing you need to do is make sure that your design is 100% finalized, and all details have been worked out. In addition, all of your materials should be selected, ordered, and ready at the jobsite before they are needed. Let’s say you are remodeling your kitchen.. There are some minor things that can wait (paint colors, hardware, light fixtures) that will not hold up the job, but the more you can have finalized, the easier it will be for the contractor to do their job. If decisions haven’t been made on everything, your installer will get to a point where he cannot move on. For example, if you know that you want quartz countertops but cannot decide on the color, your contractor can technically demo your project, install flooring, install the cabinets, work on some electrical, even get the countertops templated, but once they reach a certain point they will be at a standstill until the decision can be made. Without the countertops, tile and other finishing touches can’t go in, and you are prolonging your time without a kitchen. If you are feeling the pressure and a decision can’t be made right away, the contractor may have to pull off of the job temporarily. You don’t want to feel rushed when making these important personal decisions so it’s best to just avoid this situation altogether by having everything selected and ready before demo day!

Overly communicating is better than under communicating. Keep an open line of communication with everyone involved in your project. If you properly vetted your contractor and others involved on your project, you should have a good team by now. It is important for you as a homeowner to have some kind of idea of how things will be happening and when. While contractors can rarely give you a day-to-day timeline that details exactly what they will be doing on a daily basis, you will want to make sure that you have a start date, and an approximate end date. You may even want to ask for a tentative timeline that shows a little more detail so that you know what to expect. It doesn’t even have to be the exact date; Floors being installed the week of March 1st, countertop template tentatively scheduled March 20th, etc is suffice.

It is just as important for the industry professionals that you are working with to layout clear expectations from the beginning as well. The contractor should let you know when he’s going to be starting the project, when you should start clearing out your cupboards, what time he will be getting to the jobsite on most days and what time he plans on leaving each day. Does he plan on tidying up the jobsite before he leaves every day? These little things are important to know. Of course, a designer isn’t going to be with a homeowner in the day-to-day aspects of a remodel like the contractor is, but it is still important to keep you informed. Contractors and designers are familiar with the process of a remodel and the ups and downs they entail; it is our job to make sure that those specifics are explained to the homeowner so that no one is feeling left in the dark or surprised to find out about something that could have been easily communicated from the get go.

If you are remodeling your kitchen, set up a makeshift kitchen before demo starts (or ask your contractor to help you with this). Some people have more options than others for this one. You can set up a makeshift kitchen in your garage, laundry room, living room, any spare room really (obviously it’s ideal if there’s a sink). Plug in a fridge (the old one, new one or a spare, doesn’t matter), microwave, crockpot, and coffee maker all in one designated area. This will be your new kitchen for the duration of your remodel. If you have a single electric burner you can use that as well. I also recommend people use ready made meal delivery services and/or make crockpot meals (if you’re up for it you can make a week of freezer meals in under an hour) to make living without a full kitchen much easier. If you are not remodeling your kitchen, but another large area of your home, just make sure that you have at least one area in your home you can go to to relax.

Plan a trip, large or small. The beginning stages of your remodel will be exciting but as the sawdust settles, and gets vacuumed away, then comes back and resettles, you will be ready for a break. Plan a getaway trip. It doesn’t have to be a two week vacation to Hawaii (although that’d be nice). A couple of days somewhere relatively local is enough to take your mind off of the disruption of your home. You will want to make sure that you can be contacted just in case anything comes up, but a small getaway can make a big difference.

The key to a successful remodel truly revolves around proper planning. However, if you know what to expect throughout the duration of your remodel, and have some form of kitchen so you and your family can still enjoy a home cooked meal, you will be much further ahead. Combine those tips with a trip out of town and it will only help you to survive your remodel.

Please share in the comments if you have any other tips for surviving a remodel!


P.S. – If you’re like me and if your home isn’t beautiful and clean it will stress you out, sometimes this thought helps me to put things into perspective; It is just a remodel, it will be over and you will have a beautiful, functional space! No one is dying, no one is losing a leg, it is drywall and hardwoods, material items. I know it is your home and is hard to think of like that, but that thought certainly helps me recenter my attitude and priorities, and puts things back into perspective during a stressful time.


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