7 Things to Expect when Living Through a Home Remodel

A couple preparing for a home renovation.
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What You'll Need
What You'll Need

Ask someone living in their house while they are remodeling it if they have any advice, and they will most likely tell you, "Don't!" This is great advice if you have the financial resources to live elsewhere during a remodel, but the truth is that most of us don't. When we make the decision to upgrade our living space, we just have to put up with the dust.

As with anything else, knowing what to expect can soften the blow and allow you to make the proper preparations. The preparations won't prevent your life from being disrupted, but they can help you survive as best as possible. The following is a list of disruptions you can expect and a few simple ways to prepare for them so you can make do.

1. Things Will Get Broken

Even if the items aren't in an area being worked on, everything on your property is potentially in harm's way. While there will always be accidents, there are a few measures you can take to prevent disaster, heartbreak, or both. Move things that are really valuable out of the house. Ask a neighbor, friend, or family member to keep them for you while the construction is going on. Take down the pictures hanging on the opposite side of the wall of the room being worked on. One swing of a hammer to the structure can send all of the pictures, and the glass and frames that hold them, crashing to the floor. Take them down, wrap them up in a blanket, and tuck them under a bed for the duration of the project.

2. It Will Be Loud

sign that reads No Excessive Noise Quiet Residential Area

I'm sure you assume this, but what you may not be thinking about is that it will be loud at very inconvenient times. For example, the entire crew will be waiting for 100 pieces of lumber to be cut down to size at the exact moment that your two-year-old goes down for a nap.

3. It Will Get Dusty

In my experience, this is one of the most frustrating facts that homeowners are confronted with. They open cabinet doors located many rooms away from the worksite only to find a nice film of dust on all the dishes. Dust permeates everything.

The best way to combat it is to realize that you can't stop it, but you can contain it. Hang plastic sheeting over the doorways that lead to your construction area from the rest of the house. Hang plastic sheeting over the cabinet and pantry doors to keep dust out of the food. Make sure you vacuum around the opening to the construction zone often. This will help control the amount of dust you track through the house.

4. You Won't Always Have Plumbing

Again, this is one of those things that, no matter how much planning you do, will most likely happen, especially if you are doing a kitchen or a bathroom remodel. There is no way to predict a spill or an overfilled diaper. Make sure your contractor is communicating clearly with you about when your water will be turned off, and for how long. That way you can make sure you have a place to go or at least a few gallons of emergency water stashed away.

5. It Will Rain When Your Roof is Off

Your contractor will promise you that they can get your roof torn off, put down new decking, and re-shingle it in 72 hours. Together you carefully watch the weather and pick a window that looks like it will be rain-free, and then on a nice, bright, warm, and sunny morning, they tear off your roof. It is a beautiful day at 5 o'clock when your contractor leaves, but later that night, just as you are getting ready to settle into bed, you hear it. It starts as a low rumble, but the thunder soon begins to crash as the wind picks up. You turn on the T.V. and see the words "Storm Warning" scrolling across the bottom of the screen.

My best advice is to be prepared. If you ever remove the roof from an existing structure, especially one that you are living in, always have tarps, a staple gun, and some extra 2x4's on hand. Just do it.

6. Your Privacy Will Be Interrupted

man in robe sipping from a cup

If you like to sleep until 8 A.M. and your contractor's workers start their day at 8 A.M., make sure you throw on a bathrobe before you get that first cup of coffee, because someone will be working in your kitchen.

7. It Will Take Longer than You Think

When you sit down and draw up a work plan with your contractor, you should make a rough estimation of how long the job will take. After your contractor leaves, add 15 percent in your head. Contractors never think that they will lose a day to rain, or materials will be late, or things may have to be re-done. You can save yourself a lot of misery if you just anticipate that the project is going to take longer than you think.

Obviously, each of these things is frustrating and can really get you down in the midst of a building project. Simply being aware, however, can make it much easier to cope. Remodeling a house that you are living in is a challenge, but it can be done. Most importantly, never lose sight of what you will have once it's complete.