Friday, March 21, 2014

living through construction

Living in a home during construction isn't fun, but the end result, at least for me, is a satisfying reward for the trouble.  I've now, in my adult life, lived through two kitchen remodels and one bathroom remodel and they've all come with valuable lessons, not just of the construction type.  So if you're thinking about living through a remodel, here are my top 5 lessons and suggestions to consider before inviting a contractor to come live with you for a few months.

1  BE REALISTIC  This is probably the most necessary piece of advice but the hardest to truly accept.  If you are planning to live through a renovation, it's going to be dusty, messy, loud, and uncomfortable.  Know it and accept it.  Be realistic about the amount of cleanliness you'll be able to maintain during the project.  Make sure that your lifestyle and that of your family can be accommodated by living largely outside of your home base for a few months.  And, most importantly, make sure to cut yourself some slack!  Don't go planning any dinner parties or gatherings that require a certain level of cleanliness and presentation.  It can all wait until you have a fabulous new space to show off. 

2 CHOOSE A FRIENDLY CONTRACTOR  There are a million requirements for a contractor - that they do good, quality work, are experienced, can manage a project, are affordable, can work within your budget, communicate well, are licensed, carry insurance . . . the list goes on and on.  In addition to all of these things, make sure you meet the people who will be in your home most of the time before you sign on that dotted line.  Many times, a contracting company will send a front man to review your project and deliver a bid but in reality, once you sign the contract, you may only hear from or see that person a few times during the course of the work.  So ask to meet the foreman for your particular project before you settle on the contractor.  Make sure you feel comfortable with them because they will be practically living with you for the duration of the work.  You should feel like you can communicate with them openly and that they will be responsive to you and your requests.

3 RELOCATE ITEMS TO FREE UP SPACE  Construction doesn't just happen in one room.  Even if you are only planning to remodel your kitchen, chances are your contractor will need ready access to the basement and perhaps adjoining rooms.  They will need a convenient point of entry and exit from your home, and they will need staging and storage space.  Plan to remove unnecessary items from the areas surrounding the construction area, including their circulation routes into and through the home.  Not only will you avoid possible damage to your things, you'll be able to give the contractor some space to work.  Make sure you let them know the ways you'd like them to enter and exit the home and where they might be able to setup outside or in a garage to cut wood or perform other messy tasks that can be done outside of the house.

4 HAVE A PLAN  If you are planning to live through a remodel, a little bit of life planning can go a long way.  How can you set-up the spaces you will have to make things more convenient?  Where are some places you can go when the construction becomes just too much?  If your kitchen is non-existent, how will you feed yourself on a daily basis?  Make a plan before the contractor starts work and there will be a lot less to stress out about.  When we had our kitchen remodeled  (the second time) I spent an entire weekend making meals to freeze that could easily be reheated in the microwave.  This helped cut down on the amount of take-out we ate and helped keep our costs down.  We also set up a mini kitchen area in our living room, complete with microwave, toaster, refrigerator, pantry, table, and chairs.  But in order to accomplish this, we had to relocate part of our sectional.  We also had a solid routine of activities outside of the house.  In large part, it meant that we weren't stuck at home with the noise and dust all the time.

5 REMEMBER THE BIG PICTURE  Just remember that in a few months you will have your house back and will be able to enjoy your newly remodeled space.  Keep this big picture in mind every time there's a delay, every time something goes awry, and every time the drywall guy decides to sand the walls without closing the dust barrier!  No matter what happens, the project will be completed and (hopefully) you will love the result.

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