Our renovation went smoothly, and I attribute it first to the luck of choosing a good contractor, one who considered schedule and budget as mandates and not “suggestions.” But there are other “musts,” too. So, in Part 2 of “How to survive a renovation”, I’m talking about the things you need to consider — and do– before you start, in order to have an easier time of it. It comes down to this advice: prepare the house and yourself.
Zip lock the renovation area
The best advice I got was to plastic wrap the renovation area with zip doorways to minimize dust in the rest of the house. Our open floor plan made that more difficult, but we had a zip closure between the hall (our bedrooms area) and the renovation space, and another between the foyer and the living/rom dining room, the temporary home to our refrigerator.
Yes, zip closures are more expensive than just hanging plastic, but they really did reduce dirt and dust. Worth every penny.
Cover furniture and lamps in adjacent rooms
We bought thin plastic sheeting from a home improvement store and covered everything. This absolutely minimized dust. A must-do.
Empty walls and shelves in adjacent rooms
This was probably overkill, but during drywalling, we didn’t want vibrations to cause pictures to fall or to get dust on upholstery and every knick-knack. So we boxed up the belongs in the rooms adjacent to the kitchen and family room, then covered the boxes with thin plastic wrap. We have no regrets–cleanup was a breeze.
Decide how you are going to live during renovation, namely, where you will prepare food and where you will eat.
Our guest bathroom served as home to the coffee maker, while M’s office held the microwave. We set up a tiny table in the guest room for meals. It was crowded and a pain in the you-know-what, but we knew it was temporary.
What will you eat?
Our kitchen was being renovated, so we had no stove, no pots and pans, no way to really wash them even if we could get at them. Breakfast was simple–cereal, milk, yogurt, fruit. But for everything else, we either did takeout or microwaved a packaged dinner. A real lifesaver was Whole Foods’ prepared food bar. No question it was pricey, but when we wanted a hot meal and didn’t want to go to a restaurant, that was how we rolled.
The way I looked at it, we could either bitch and moan the whole time or go with the flow. We went with the flow and had no regrets.
We knew that snafus in schedule, budget and work were common in renovation, so we expected them. A few did arise, but nothing that we couldn’t swing. Attitude is everything during a renovation.
Every renovation we know of that has gone bad has done so because of a contractor’s screw-up and usually that he or she fails to take responsibility for it. We can’t emphasize enough the need to go overboard in interviewing contractors and checking their references. Today’s online forums allow customers to have their say and we absolutely did our due diligence. We were thrilled with our contractor. Of course, you can do all the necessary research and still fall victim to some bad luck or a bad attitude. Still, spend as much time as possible researching contractors for yourself. Do not go on a friend’s recommendation.
Once renovation begins, workers will find things that require more budget to fix. In our case, the big, pricey discoveries were that gas lines weren’t run to our fireplaces and more electrical circuits were needed to bring the house up to code. These weren’t cheap, but we evaluated the pros and cons of making each investment and then decided to go forward.
Next renovation post: our renovation, before and after!