How to Prepare for a Smooth Home Remodel
So you’ve made the decision to remodel your home; congratulations! Soon you’ll be enjoying your home in ways you haven’t in years, and possibly like never before. But as is the case with anything worth having, you’ve got to get through the hard part first of waiting, and having your normal routine interrupted.
No two renovations are exactly alike, but some issues crop up on virtually every job we do, and we’ve grown accustomed to fielding many of the same questions from homeowners time and again. So we thought we’d put them down in writing as a reference guide for anyone considering a home remodel to help prepare you for the process so you know what to expect.
Can I still live in the house?
This is always one of the first things homeowners want to know before a remodel. The answer is that yes, in most cases, you can still live in your house throughout the project. Exceptions would be a major renovation where virtually no area of the house remains untouched, such as a second story addition.
Whether you’ll actually want to stay is another matter.
As we’ll explain below, we do our best to mitigate the negative aspects of our presence in your house, always doing our utmost to be respectful of you and your home. Whether we do enough for you to live there without pulling your hair out is sometimes hard to predict.
Both remaining in the house and relocating have their pluses and minuses.
Some homeowners appreciate being able to monitor our progress every day, and few look forward to the cost and hassle of relocating. However, you should realize that life may not be “normal” for potentially several months, depending on the project scope.
Our team may be starting early in the day, coming and going in and out of the house constantly, and making noise and clutter. You may need to limit your activities to just a couple rooms that are sealed off from dust, which may get a little too cozy if you have a large family. If we’re renovating the kitchen, you probably won’t be able to cook anything or wash dishes, which can get tiresome in a hurry.
What do I need to do before a remodel starts?
We go to great lengths to protect your home before a remodel. Still, there are steps you can take to help supplement these efforts and make the project as painless as possible for yourself…
- Set up a construction-free zone. Although we don’t enter areas we’re not renovating, having a sealed-off area can provide you with sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of construction, as well as provide a place to secure any items you’re particularly worried about protecting.
- Install a lockbox or smart door lock so that we can let ourselves in. This can save you serious headaches, even if you choose to live in the house during the project.
- Vacuum-seal clothing and linens you don’t need during the project to keep dust off them.
- Move furniture, valuables, and decor from construction areas into non-construction areas of the home, or to outside storage.
- If you’re staying, make a plan and assemble your tools and supplies (slow cooker, plasticware, folding chairs, etc.) for eating, drinking, and generally living in the home.
Will there be a big mess?
“Big” is in the eye of the homeowner, but you definitely won’t be hosting any dinner parties until renovation is complete.
Virtually every renovation involves copious amounts of dust: drywall dust from demolishing walls, sawdust from cutting lumber, “normal” dust from pulling up floor tiles. Much of our cleaning and containment efforts–from sealing off ducts to putting up barriers called zip walls between construction and non-construction areas to using air scrubbers and other cleaning equipment--is related to dust.
The floors can quickly become covered with debris, as well, such as sheetrock pieces, sections of old attic insulation, broken tiles, spent nails and screws, splintered lumber…our tools and equipment also adds to the clutter, from sawhorses and saws to ladders to drills and drivers scattered about. That’s why we first put down material known as Ram Board to protect any floor spaces we’re standing on but not renovating.
Even the outside of your home may get messy if we’re working on the roof or rooms or walls that are on the edges of the home. We also often cut wood or other materials outside, which keeps the noise and mess down inside your home but increases it in the driveway or yard.
The important thing to remember is that it’s all part of the process; before you can rebuild a house, you have to take it apart.
What about kids and pets?
These two types of family members complicate things as they’re naturally intrigued by the novel environment of a renovation. There are any number of dangers to small children and pets, however, and for that reason both need to be kept away from the remodeling areas.
For pets, it may be best to board them or send them to stay with friends during the construction, especially if they’re high-strung and easily upset. If they’re staying with you, make sure you have a plan for keeping them calm and escorting them in and out for bathroom and exercise breaks safely.
As for kids, the more you can keep them out of the house, the better. Kids are more susceptible to hazards such as paint fumes than adults, so something that may not be bothering you may still be affecting a little one.
Beyond that, the noise may make naps or quiet times very difficult. Try to schedule day trips as much as possible, or set up camp in the backyard, if the weather permits. Letting children wander around the home unsupervised will not be safe, so make sure you have someone to watch them at all times while in the house.
Will it be loud?
Just as there’s no avoiding dust during a home renovation, noise is an inescapable aspect, as well. Power tools such as circular saws, chainsaws, drills, belt sanders, jackhammers, nail guns, and air compressors emit sounds at levels high enough to damage hearing over time, or even immediately in some cases.
Noise should be a serious consideration in your decision whether to remain in the house. If you do stay, you may need to invest in good ear protection and/or soundproof your construction-free zones as best you can. While this may protect your sanity, the noise can still make it difficult to work from home, as many homeowners are doing these days.
Do I need to tell neighbors?
Even though it won’t cause ear damage, your neighbors may well grow accustomed to the sound of hammering or drilling coming from your property, sometimes early in the morning. Your home and/or lawn also may not be very presentable while construction is going on.
It’s up to you, but we do recommend giving your neighbors a head’s up before the project begins. They’re going to find out soon enough anyway, and giving them a warning–perhaps accompanied by a muffin basket or similar peace offering–can soften the blow and keep your relationship on good terms, which is always best. It would also be great to invite them over once the project’s complete to join in the rewards of your new space, since they’ll have made sacrifices, too.
Do I need to put belongings in storage?
This depends on how much “stuff” you have and how expansive the renovation efforts will be. If there’s not room in the non-construction areas to hold the items from your construction areas–and leave room for you to use the room, as well–you may have to opt for storage.
A neat new way to avoid having to store your things off-site is to have a storage container delivered to your driveway so that you can access your possessions 24/7.
Whether you opt for a storage pod or just use a spare bedroom, remember to put the most frequently needed stuff on the outside of the pile, and the items you only rarely use at the back.
Accept that there will be high and lows
No matter how well you prepare, once renovation is underway there will be good times and bad times.
In our vast experience, we’ve found that the emotions of the homeowners, their kids, and even Fido rise and fall at fairly predictable moments.
So we assembled this helpful (albeit unscientific) graph to prepare you for when you can expect to need a tissue and when you’ll want to put on the party hat.
Follow the full emotional journey of a home renovation.
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If you live in the Southwest Houston area and you want a smooth home renovation, give us a call or schedule a free consultation.