When it comes to achieving the dream “look” or functionality that you want in a house, you have a couple of options. You can sell your home and buy another one, or you can invest that money into renovating your existing home and molding it into precisely what you want. And in a competitive market like the one we’ve been in the past several years here in Houston and the surrounding areas, many homeowners would rather remodel what they’ve got than get in line with thousands of other buyers to overbid on properties that still don’t check every “box” on their wish lists.
While remodeling is a great choice that gives you plenty of control, it does come with some challenges that must be worked around…quite literally. Living in a construction zone is a unique (and sometimes frustrating) experience. You’ll need a plan to stay sane, healthy, organized, and clean.
6 Tips for Living Through a Remodel
Remodels are messy, noisy, and loud. You have contractors in your home at crazy hours of the day and it can feel like you’re living in a cloud of dust. And while there are certain elements that you just have to embrace – it’s an actual jobsite, after all – there are several steps you can take to keep your life in order during this time. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Hire the Right Contractor
It all starts and ends with hiring the right contractor for the job. A good contractor will make the process smooth, simple, and relatively carefree. (Relatively being the important word in that sentence.) A bad contractor can make your life miserable. Here are some tips for finding the right person for the job:
- Get multiple estimates. This should go without saying, but make sure you get at least three estimates. You’ll find that the quotes you get are all over the place. If you only get one estimate, you risk overpaying.
- Ask around. The problem with contractors is that they all talk a smooth game when you meet them. Yet many contractors are so overworked – meaning they take on too many jobs at once – that they can’t possibly live up to the lofty promises they make. The best way to know if you’re getting a good remodeling contractor is to ask around. Gather referrals, call references, and listen to what other people say about their experiences with the contractor.
- Check insurance. If you’re going to let someone tear apart your house and rebuild it, you better make sure they have the credentials to do so. Verify that the contractor is properly insured and bonded (and that any subcontractors they use are properly insured as well). If the contractor is not insured, you could be held personally liable for accidents that take place on your property.
2. Take What You Need
You don’t just lose the utility of a room when it gets remodeled. You also lose the storage capacity. Make sure you gather any essential items that you’ll need prior to work beginning. The longer the remodel is supposed to take, the more you’ll need. Plan ahead!
3. Seal Off the Mess
A remodel creates a lot of mess. Dust, sawdust, and debris stick and cling to absolutely everything – from ceiling fans to floorboards and everything in between. Containing the mess. The key is to contain this mess so that it doesn’t infiltrate other rooms in the home.
A loose sheet of thin plastic hung over the doorway of the remodel area won’t cut it. Your contractor should completely seal the top and sides of the area with heavy plastic and tape. (A really good contractor might even add an adhesive-backed zipper for easy entry.)
4. Set Construction Hours
The last thing you want is for your house to be a construction zone for 18 hours per day. Yet, at the same time, you want the job to be finished as quickly as possible. This creates a catch-22 situation. Do you let contractors work from sunrise to sunset and live with a constant state of nail guns and hammers? Or do you limit their hours and potentially slow down the progress?
Most homeowners choose to set reasonable construction hours. This helps with sanity, while also preventing neighbors from complaining too much. For example, you might work with your contractor to establish permissible work hours of 8am to 5pm.
5. Set Up a Temporary Kitchen
The kitchen is one of the rooms in the home that you just can’t live without. So what do you do if you’re remodeling the kitchen and it’s not functional for several weeks or months at a time? Why you create your own, of course!
A well-designed temporary kitchen can be a life-saver during this time. Here are a few tips:
- Learn to cook with a griddle and microwave. These two items give you a lot of flexibility and allow you to cook some fairly tasty meals.
- If the weather is okay, take your meals outside. Grilling and eating on an outdoor patio makes for fun family time.
- Move your refrigerator to the garage so that you have full access to all of your food. Pantry items can be stored in cabinets.
While your temporary kitchen will never be as convenient as an actual kitchen, you can make things more enjoyable and functional by using suggestions like these. If nothing else, it’ll help you make some memories!
6. Get Out of Dodge
Does your family like to travel? Have you been talking about taking a two-week European vacation for years, but have never made the time to do it? While planning an expensive vacation might not be in the cards for your family’s budget when you’re in the middle of a five- or six-figure renovation, it’s worth considering.
Traveling for a week or two – or even just leaving town on the weekends – is a great way to pass some of the time and reduce the frustration of spending idle time in the middle of a construction zone.
Green Residential: Houston’s Home Experts
In Houston, the Green Residential name is synonymous with real estate. Whether you’re buying a Houston home, selling a Houston home, or managing a Houston rental property, we have decades of experience helping homeowners and investors with their properties. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help, please don’t hesitate to contact us today!