April 3, 2014
It’s the age-old remodeling dilemma – should you live with construction or move out? Whether the remodel is extensive or very small, once we are through the schematic design process and start having any initial discussion involving construction costs, we almost always find ourselves answering questions about the reality of living with construction during a remodel. As a homeowner who has personally lived through two remodeling projects I can tell you first hand, the only thing scarier than the actual construction estimate is the thought of how to live through the construction while balancing a happy house, family, and sense of well-being. We hope we can offer some tips and get you thinking about what’s best for you and your sanity during the next remodeling project at your home.
Let’s first talk about some of the advantages to staying at home… First, you don’t have to relocate, which can be quite costly, disruptive to your lives (especially if you have kiddos), and provides an added inconvenience. Second, you don’t have the expense of not only moving, but also paying rent AND a mortgage simultaneously, unless you are able to live with nearby relatives, but that opens a whole other can of worms. Third, you are likely to communicate more often and openly with the contractor and crew, which helps put at ease any concerns, frustrations, anxieties you may be having. The final and perhaps most compelling reason for staying at home is that you can monitor the construction process on a daily basis and check on progress. Being onsite also allows you, the homeowner, to short circuit any questions or time-pressing issues that require your attention.
Now onto the benefits of moving out. First, you are very much removed from the dust, filth, drilling, and distractions of construction. Second, sometimes, but not always, construction will go a little faster and smoother with your absence because contractors can pound away without worrying about disrupting your lives or sticking to zones away from where you’re living. Third, there are undeniable emotional benefits to not seeing, hearing, or smelling construction and everything that comes with it. Tip: If you do decide to move-out, make sure you plan-ahead and relocate services normally used at your house such as mail delivery, cable/internet, newspaper, etc.
Tips for staying and living with construction: First, set-up a sealed-off construction and dust-free zone that is your serene space, no matter how small, where no one except you and your family will go. Second, try to take a vacation that coincides with the messiest part of construction – demolition. Do however make sure you’re not so far away that you can’t be reached by phone if questions come up. Third, try and view the whole experience as a great adventure for the benefit of your family and know that as with everything else in life, it too will come to an end.
One of our clients who recently finished a project and lived through construction e-mailed us a photo of their construction site during the holidays. They had a lot of family coming in from out of town for the holidays and wanted to celebrate all together in the new space – despite it being a few months away from completion. Our client had the contractor pull the dumpster, equipment, and tools off of the job for one week so they could have family time and be together uninterrupted. In the end, our clients invited the contractor over for drinks one evening because they were so used to his company and got along very well. In the best of situations, the contractor-client relationship eventually turns familial and is long-term.
Here is a before photo, 1 day before the contractor pulled off of the job site for the week of Christmas.
And here is a photo of the decorated great room, under construction, during the holidays:
It’s not perfect, but the clients made living with construction work for them and they saved quite a bit of money while doing so. Construction is stressful, expensive, and an emotional process no matter if you live with it or away from it. Always remember to tell yourself that it will end one day and keep the end goal in mind – a beautiful new space in your home that you’ll be able to enjoy everyday.