Living Through Renovations

In the process of consulting with both decorating and staging clients, I often recommend repairs, upgrades, and renovations. Many have heard me joke about my job being the greatest because I get to tell people what to do, then walk away while the work gets done by someone else in someone else’s home.

Well, it was my turn recently in my own home- New windows, flooring, painting, kitchen backsplash, a new half wall, and various repairs. I was fortunate to have my business resources: a great contractor who could handle it all (Josh Ramsay of Ramsay’s Renos, 292 6638), trusted sales people (Michele Horseman of Taylor Flooring, 445 6400), discounted pricing, and the skills to make choices without any stress. I knew what to except in terms of things sometimes going sideways and jobs taking longer than expected. I prepared myself for the chaos. Still, it was a trying five weeks.

Quite a few articles have been written on choosing a contractor, payment terms and having a written contract for renovations. Not so much about how inconvenient and messy it can be if you are also living in the home. Here are some realities of living through a reno which you may want to prepare yourself for.

  1. Simple things like brushing your teeth or changing your clothes may be difficult with men working in the house. Ask questions, like what hours the contractors will be there and do they break for lunch – then plan ahead. Ask a neighbour if your family can borrow their phone, bathroom, or simply a quiet space when needed.
  2.  Contractors, painters and trades people cause dust. Everything they do causes dust, which will get into and under everything. You will quickly get very tired of trying to clean at the end of the day. Learn to relax your standards if you are used to an immaculate home. You may want to pack away or seal with plastic as much as possible to keep the clean-up to a minimum.
  3. This is a great time to do some editing in your home, as things are being shifted around and closet contents exposed. Most of us have files, boxes, knick-knacks, and maybe even furniture no longer wanted. These can be donated to charity or placed at the curb. Do it before the reno if possible, to make things easier for the contractors and an easier clean-up after for you.
  4. There is no order in the middle of renovations. If you are anything like me, wanting everything in its place, this may seem disastrous. Keep a handle on the things you really need and let the rest go until the renos are done. The alternatives are to go crazy or move out.
  5. Have meals on hand which are fast and easy. You may not have access to your stove, or your kitchen for that matter, so expect a few take-out meals too.
  6. There may be unavoidable delays. You do have the right to remind your workers about their time commitment and push a bit for a speedy finish. Rewards for work done on schedule can be a great added incentive. Avoid paying for a job until it is completed.
  7. Stay focused on the prize: the end results. Keeping cheerful and patient can be difficult but it will ensure that you and the people working in your home will have the best experience possible.
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