Let’s face it, renovating your home can be a headache, from staying under budget to meeting tight deadlines to the seemingly endless barrage of decisions to be made. For many homeowners, the biggest question comes very early on: should I stay in my home during the renovation?
Everyone’s circumstances are different. Variables include the size and scope of the renovation, the availability of kitchens and bathrooms, the amount of dust and debris expected to be generated by the work being done and your tolerance for inconvenience. The decision to stay or go should not be taken lightly. Talk to your contractor, make sure you have a clear understanding of what will be going on in your home and consider these insights.
Temporarily relocating obviously has costs associated with it, but may people don’t consider the costs of staying in their home during a renovation. If your contractor has to spend time at the end of every work day giving the house a thorough cleaning, making sure the plumbing and electrical is fully functional, and generally making sure the house is liveable, the cost of that time can add up during the course of the renovation. The fact is that contractors can work faster and more efficiently when the homeowners are not present and many prefer it that way. Talk honestly with your contractor about this before you decide to stay or go.
Renovation is loud. It simply can’t be avoided. If you’re going to be home during the day while contractors are working, be prepared to endure high noise levels. Your contractor can tell you what tools they’ll be using when and just how noisy they are, so if you are staying at home, you can get out of the house, even if it’s just for a little while, for some peace and quiet.
Ask your contractor what type of dust, debris and refuse will be created during the project. Generally speaking, most of the dangerous stuff gets kicked up during demolition, particularly if you live in an older home. Lead paint and asbestos are just two of the items homebuilders used to use that have since been shown to be dangerous. While intact, they are generally harmless, but when disturbed during demo, they become hazardous.
Other phases of construction can also involve hazardous situations. Many wood stains and varnishes used on wood floors, for example, generate dangerous fumes while curing. Joint compound used during the installation of drywall is not hazardous per se, but the process of sanding it generates large quantities of very fine dust. Careful contractors can take steps to minimize proliferation of these items through your house, but you need to understand that renovation is not a spotless process. Ask your contractor what precautions they plan to take and how they plan to contain dust.
Children and Pets
Are your children mature enough to stay away from the construction area or will their curiosity get the better of them? Will the disruption and noise bother them or prevent them from getting their homework done? What about the family pet? Will they be confused by all the new people in the house? Will the constant noise disturb them? These are all questions to carefully consider before your renovation begins.
According to your contractor’s schedule, how long will your kitchen be out of commission? Can they schedule the renovation so that one bathroom is always available? What about heat, cooling, electrical and plumbing? Will there be extended periods of time that the house’s systems will be turned off? These are all questions to ask your contractor before they start swinging a hammer.
You may also want to consider moving out for only part of the renovation. If you’re willing to live with a small mess for a short time rather than a huge mess for a long time, you may be able to move back in once the drywall is installed and sanded. At this point, work on everything behind the walls like plumbing and electrical will have been completed, and your home won’t be move-in ready, but it will be fully functional and the messiest phase will be over.
Whether you decide to stay or go, understand that unexpected issues may arise. If you’ve moved out, your contractor’s ability to stick to their timeline will impact on whether or not you’ll need to stay out for longer than you thought. If you stay, be prepared for inconveniences like living without a kitchen and never-ceasing dust. If the mess, noise and chaos simply become too much, it’s a great idea to have a plan B. At a minimum, you should have a place to go for a brief respite. A good contractor will be honest up front about what the living conditions will be during the renovation and they’ll make provisions for you whatever you decide.
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