01 October 2008

Get prepared to rip up your house

So you've decided to embark on a renovation. Congratulations to you. But like anything else in life, it seems you'll have to endure a bit of hassle before you can realize a benefit. Dealing with inconveniences is one thing but having your house ripped apart needn't involve outright suffering. And the key to suffering avoidance is two fold. Manage your expectations first and then make preparations to help you through the rough patches.

I deal with kitchen renovations more than any other category of re-do and living through a kitchen renovation is probably the most common experience of renovation most people have. I cannot promise that it will be an easy process, but as with anything else in life, your memory of an inconvenience will never be as bad as your experience of it. Remember that and take comfort in it. This is by no means an exhaustive list, it is however, a couple of things I've learned over the years.

  1. Talk to your contractor and ask him for a realistic time frame of how long you can expect to be without the full use of your home. If it's a kitchen renovation, prepare yourself to be functioning kitchen-free for at least four weeks. Don't get too attached to that number though. Psych yourself up for a longer period of time and you'll get a happy surprise at the end rather than the opposite.
  2. Ask your contractor to help you through the process by setting up a temporary kitchen somewhere. A lot of times, a 220 line can be set up in a garage so that you can move your range out of the kitchen and into the garage to use temporarily. Ask him or her too if its feasible to set up a temporary sink out there too. All you need are water supply lines, a waste line, some saw horses, a sheet of plywood and your old sink and faucet which are headed to the landfill anyway. Making yourself a temporary in the garage can be a life saver.
  3. If setting up a range and a sink in the garage won't work, move the functions of a kitchen into the laundry room or a bathroom. Set up a coffee maker, a microwave oven and anything else you need to help you create a semblance of normalcy. If you can establish a routine and try to continue to live as you normally would, you'll be ahead of the game.
  4. Don't minimize the amount of time you'll be camping in your own home. A couple of weeks doesn't sound like much as an idea, but in practice it's a long time. What you're about to live through will suck, BUT IT'S TEMPORARY.
  5. Your house will be a mess for a while, deal with it. Seal off the area that's under construction and try to minimize the dust drift into the rest of the house. You can try to minimize it, but you cannot eliminate it. Declare your bedroom as a safe room. Keep your bedroom exactly the way it was before the renovation started. Don't pile stuff you've moved from around the house into your bedroom. Keep it so that when you close the bedroom door, everything will seem normal.
  6. If you have sensitive electronics and valuable, fragile possessions; store them before work starts.
  7. Your regular routines will be disrupted, so leave extra time and understanding to cope with the changes. Everyone in your household will be affected so be gentle with your housemates and ask them to be gentle with you.
  8. Don't spend too much time looking over the work in progress. Set up regular meetings with your contractor and get a guided tour of the work in progress. Ask as many questions as you can think of, but remember that things look a lot worse before they can look better.
  9. Take an oath to not fly off the handle when you're frustrated. If you feel yourself losing it, stop what you're doing. Take a moment to compose yourself and then ask whatever question is unasked and make whatever request is unmade. People respond in kind to how you approach them; jump on someone and he's going to jump right back on you. Ask calmly and she'll calmly explain what's going on. Try it! It works in regular life too.
  10. When it's all over, hire a service to come in and do a GI clean. Your contractor's crew will clean up after themselves, but they won't scrub. Hire someone to come in and do the scrubbing.
Again, that's not an exhaustive list but it's a good start. Positive experiences start inside and work their way outward. Try it!

1 comment:

  1. Paul...

    Do you mind if I borrow this? (I'll give credit). :)


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