Planning a home renovation requires a great deal of time and effort. First it’s necessary to determine which room(s) will be worked on and exactly what changes will be made. Then you’ll need to set a budget and find a contractor who promises to complete the work on time and within that budget.
Next comes the biggest challenge of all: surviving the home renovation! Home renovations inevitably result in large amounts of noise, debris, and disruption. The changes that you discussed quietly at the dining room table over a glass of wine must be accomplished through the use of drills, hammers, saws … and lots of muscle power.
Your driveway and parts of your home are taken over by pickup trucks and workers wearing tool belts. Even after the renovators go home in the evening, the worksite remains a no-go zone, disrupting your routines and making entertaining impossible. The tidiest, most conscientious contractor can’t entirely eliminate the dirt and dust that spreads to other parts of the house.
To cope with this chaos, you definitely need a plan! Here are six tips for surviving your home renovation.
1. Unless the home renovation is very minor and confined to one (non-essential) room, you should consider moving out for the duration. The noise, disruption, and lack of privacy can make it difficult to carry on with your regular routines. This is especially true if one or more family members work from home. Even if you don’t anticipate such problems, it is sensible to arrange for alternate accommodations such as a residence or suites hotel you can access on short notice.
2. Leave some wiggle room in your budget. You should negotiate the best deal possible with the contractor, while realizing that extra expenditures may be unavoidable (for example, to fix defects that are only revealed after the work begins). Also, ensure that funds are available for temporary living expenses related to restaurant meals and/or hotel rooms (see the first point above). Finally, you may wish to engage a professional cleaning service after the renovation is complete, to eliminate the worst of the dirt and dust.
3. Provide your home insurer with all relevant information in a timely manner. Check with the insurance company before the work begins, and review any aspect of your coverage that could be impacted by the renovations. In addition, inform the insurer promptly about any changes to the renovation plan as the work proceeds.
5. Let your neighbors know about your home renovation plans. Remember that they are also affected – to some degree – by the noise and dirt as well as the extra activity at your property. Mount a charm offensive! Be sure to inform the neighbors about the home renovation before the work begins. Then check with them occasionally during the project (if it lasts longer than a week). After the job is complete, consider inviting them into your home to enjoy your hospitality and view the results.
6. Develop a good working relationship with the contractor. Be friendly but not chummy. Monitor the project without nagging or interfering. Just as happens with plastic surgery, the renovation process typically involves a transitional stage when the site looks terrible! Since you chose your contractor with care, be confident that beauty and order will eventually emerge from the (apparent) chaos. If you have any questions or complaints, approach the owner/manager calmly and express your concerns respectfully, making reference to the relevant clause(s) of the renovation contract.
This survival plan should ensure that both your sanity and your bank account are intact when the home renovation is finally completed! Perhaps more importantly, following these tips will enable you to maintain positive relationships with your family members (or other housemates) and neighbors.