One of the big decisions you’ll need to make when you’re getting ready to start a home renovation is whether or not to stay in your home while the work is being done. A renovation or remodel can take a while and be disruptive to your life at home, no matter how much care and planning takes place beforehand (and we do a lot of caring and planning for your project!). There are benefits and downsides to both staying and leaving. So how do you know what’s best for you and your family?
Sometimes You Have to Leave
There are some kinds of remodels that don’t leave you with the option of whether to stay or go. If you’re adding a second story, doing a tear-down, or completely gutting your house down to the studs, staying put won’t really be a possibility. Sometimes the project is too involved, will take too long, or will just be too disruptive. It’s always best to talk with your contractor or project manager before you get started to see if they think it’s a possibility that you can stay. Otherwise, start making plans to find somewhere else to live for a while.
If the Choice is Yours
If the choice is up to you whether to live in the renovation or go elsewhere, there are a few factors to consider.
What is the scope of the renovation? Is it a basement remodel that is fairly contained, or a whole-house remodel where no room is left untouched?
Which rooms are being worked on? It’s easier to live without your master bedroom for a while and sleep in the guest room than it is to go without a kitchen, for example.
If it’s a bathroom remodel, are you working on all the bathrooms? Or will there be one that you and your family can use?
Do you have young children and/or pets who would not be safe around a construction site?
Choosing to Stay: Living in a Renovation
There are pros and cons to whatever decision you make. If you decide to stay, as many people do, we will do our best to make it a great experience for you. But it won’t be without its bumps.
The biggest benefit to staying in your home during a renovation is the money you’ll save by not having to rent another place. It’s almost always cheaper to stay than to go. It can also be exciting to watch the progress unfold in your home, getting a front-row seat to the progress that is made each day.
Depending on your specific family, it may also be less disruptive to stay than to go. Sometimes being in a familiar place–even one that is full of workers, tools, and noise–is better than being somewhere new. You know your family and what would be best for them and for you.
There are some downsides to staying put as well. It can be wearing to have people in and out of your home all day. It will be noisy–especially during the demolition period. And it will be dusty. At BOLT, we are very careful and respectful of your home. We prepare the site carefully with plastic sheeting, heavy cardboard, covered air registers, and even sometimes temporary walls to keep the rest of your home protected from construction dirt and debris. But keep in mind that if you’re living in the home, some of the dust will find you (how can you resist peeking into the construction zone now and then?).
If you don’t have access to your kitchen, you may spend some of the money you saved by staying home on take-out food. Make sure you plan for that. If all your bathrooms are in various stages of construction, you’ll have to figure out another place to shower. It’ll be tough to live in your home during a renovation, but you can do it with some careful planning, flexibility, and a sense of adventure.
How to Pull It Off
Set up a makeshift kitchen in another room. Use an electric griddle, a microwave, a toaster oven, an instant pot–anything that makes cooking easier. Make sure you have a coffee pot ready to go! Get a folding table and chairs, and consider bringing your fridge in with an extension cord. Use paper plates and cups to save on dishes.
If the weather is nice, grill and eat outside as much as possible.
You can have one bathroom renovated at a time, to make sure you have another to use. If you do this, keep in mind that your project will take longer and may be more expensive as the contractors will have to come out multiple times to finish the whole job. It might be worth it for you–or it might not.
Consider boarding your dog during the days if the increased noise and foot traffic will make her anxious.
Leave the house when you can. You can take day trips or schedule a vacation, especially during the demolition period.
Make sure you use a contractor you trust, who communicates well with you, takes care of your property, keeps it cleaned up at the end of each day, and is respectful of you and your home.
Choosing to Leave: Staying Elsewhere During a Renovation
If you can pull it off, moving out of your home during the renovation process is often the least stressful option. You can still come by to see progress, but you will have a quiet, restful place to stay that isn’t a construction zone. The renovation process can be emotionally taxing and living in the middle of it can sometimes make it harder.
Even simple tasks like cooking dinner can be more difficult if your home is being renovated. The constant stream of people in and out makes your home feel less like a retreat from the world and more like a revolving door. You don’t have use of your entire house, with different areas being off-limits, sometimes for weeks. And the tools and materials that are on-site, even when stored and kept tidy, can take up a lot of space.
Staying on-site can sometimes make the remodeling process take longer, as workers will be respectful of start and stop times if it affects your family’s life. And if they only have access to parts of your home at a given time (say, one or two bathrooms, or only some of the bedrooms), it can mean that the work can’t be done in the most efficient way possible.
There’s also sometimes a safety concern. Kids and pets will need to be carefully watched to make sure they don’t get hurt or get into things they shouldn’t. And immunocompromised people, or people with asthma may have a hard time with the dust and debris that is stirred up in a construction site.
Leaving isn’t without its difficulties–it can be expensive or hard to find another place to stay. You’ll want to make sure that if the renovation takes a while, your temporary home has kitchen facilities and enough space for your family. Hotels can work for a short time, but they can be too cramped if you stay there for long.
Even so, the trade-off of not having to live in a construction site is worth it for a lot of people.
How to Pull It Off
Consider your options. Can you stay with a friend or relative for some or all of the time? Can you hop between a few different places, staying sometimes with a friend and other times in a hotel?
Look into Air B&Bs and VRBO options, as well as short-term rentals and leases.
Consider extended-stay hotels if your family can fit into one.
For a long project, consider renting an apartment. You can also move some of your furniture into the apartment to protect it and to clear space for the work that’s being done.
Consider the expense of staying somewhere else as part of the expense of the remodeling project. Factor it into your budget.
It’s Worth the Hassle
Whether you stay or go, try your best to keep your eye on the prize. Yes, a renovation project will be disruptive to your life and your family, but only for a time. After that, you will get the benefit of a home that is perfectly suited to your needs and wants–and you can enjoy it for years. If you’re ready to take the first step toward your dream home, and you live in the Virginia, DC, or Maryland area, BOLT can help you. Contact us today and let’s get started.