When to live through a remodel and when to hit the road, Jack

Staying in your home through a major renovation can be one of the toughest things to endure as a homeowner. What many don’t realize is that renovations, even of just one area, will affect just about every aspect of your quality of life. Sleeping, eating, bathing, personal habits, dressing, cooking, cleaning… even watching TV… will be impacted in one way or another.

The type of remodel you are having done is the biggest factor in determining how much your quality of life will be affected. Adding a deck, or installing new roofing or siding, may have a minimal impact on your life; perhaps a work truck or two in the driveway and some banging and noise outside. (ProTalk #ProTip: If your home is being re-sided, remember to remove the pictures and art work from the walls.)

New Additions


Adding square footage to your existing home will have more of an impact. Between earth-moving machines, dump and cement trucks, lumber deliveries and more lumber deliveries, the noise and constant flow of materials can take a toll on your sanity. We never get all the material at one time. We call our suppliers over and over again (like we get a discount for volume of calls), hoping to expedite the process, but it typically takes multiple trips, especially for an addition.

With an addition, we’re also bringing in multiple sub-contractors, which will mean more trucks, vans and deliveries. (Did I mention we get a lot of deliveries?) This also translates to a longer period of time that we are on site. That being said, until we make the “cut through” or connect the new structure to the existing home, the direct impact to your life in the house is minimal.

Kitchen and Bath Remodels

Kitchen and bath remodels seem simpler than new rooms and additions, but think about this: your contractor is now right in the middle of your living area and most-used rooms in the house. Depending on the number of bathrooms, you may need to bathe at a relative’s or friend’s house or the local fitness center and use our porta-potty in the driveway. (ProTalk #ProTip: Buy a good flashlight!)

renovation living in wild

If you’re remodeling your kitchen, meals will obviously be greatly affected. A makeshift kitchen can usually be set up somewhere else in the home, but oh, the dust. There is so much of it. And it gets EVERYWHERE. We try, we really do, to minimize it – plastic, temporary walls, drop cloths, tracking mats, movers’ blankets, shop vacs – but the dust just goes everywhere. It’s like a little war between the vacuum and the dust and the dust always wins. So, I guess what I’m saying is buy stock in Swiffer.

You’ll also learn to dislike pizza, Chinese takeout and burgers, and become very skilled in the operation of a microwave. Your contractor and team will be happy to help with any leftovers. In fact, once when my team and I were adding a major addition to a home on a lake front (basically doubling the square footage of the home), we became quite “comfortable” with the homeowners. They were such a generous family, treated us like family, and kept us well fed, but had to start leaving funny notes for me on the leftover food containers in the refrigerator: “DINO, DO NOT EAT. THIS IS FOR OUR DINNER.” I may have crossed a line somewhere, but they’re still customers to this day, and we still laugh about the notes left behind.

The good news here: kitchen and bath renovations usually only last a few weeks.

Adding a Floor/Whole-home Remodel

A full house remodel or adding a second floor is a whole different ball game. These are so fun. You get to play hopscotch in every room of the house while we chase you with saws and hammers.

Alexandria in progress

…just kidding, but it may feel like it.

Walls are being moved, traffic flow and patterns are changing. If it’s an upward addition, we are trying to beat the weather and get the house dried in so first floor impacts are minimal. At times electric, heat, AC and plumbing may be turned off to allow for new connections. With the increased workload, deliveries also increase; some days we get 3 or even 4. It seems like there are inches of dust covering every surface. If it sounds like a horror movie, that’s because for some people, it is.

Depending how thorough the renovation is, it may make sense to move out, from both a general sanity perspective and with respect to the timeline. I have had many large-scale remodel customers tell me that if they had to do it over again, they would have made arrangements to live elsewhere for a few months, perhaps plan a vacation somewhere during this time. Getting away from the craziness, hectic living situation, and the dust (oh, the dust) may be a really good idea.

If you’re thinking about remodeling, watch the movie “The Money Pit.” It’s an exaggeration of living through a remodel, but some points in the movie are pretty accurate. Your contractor will know your schedule, eating habits, workout routine, your likes and dislikes of just about everything. You will love and hate us—not because we did anything wrong, but just because we’re still there, day after day, week after week. At times it will look like very little is getting accomplished and other times a lot will be done in a short period of time.

The end results will be worth it though. All that hard work you did picking out new finishes and living in limbo will pay off when you’re cooking meals in your gourmet kitchen, BBQing on the back deck, or taking a relaxing bath in the jet tub.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a delivery coming and some dust to Swiffer.