4 Tips for Living with Ongoing Home Renovations That Aren’t Quick *or* Easy

published Sep 28, 2021
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I started enclosing my covered patio back in May 2020. Due to problems with the supply chain and a series of stops and starts thanks to pandemic-related delays, my quick renovation project quickly turned into an ongoing one. Some of the temporary renovation inconveniences — like losing access to my front door and having windows removed and covered in Tyvek for months — quickly started to feel like permanent problems.

Living in your home while undergoing renovations can be frustrating. Not only are you sometimes forced to deal with excess noise, limited space, and construction debris — drywall dust is the glitter of the construction world, finding its way into absolutely every crevice — but sometimes it can feel like your entire home has been turned upside down. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to make living alongside your construction work a little less painful.

Set a cleaning schedule.

In order to stay on top of the mess, Jeff Shipwash, CEO of Shipwash Properties LLC, says it’s important to set a cleaning schedule. “This can be an expectation you set with the construction crew,” he says. “Set the expectation that debris, tools, and other messes should be cleaned up daily, and not at the end of the project.”

Tidying up debris consistently won’t just help make messes manageable — it will help your home feel more like home and less like a work site. That’s crucial for living with long-lasting projects that might be part of your scenery for weeks or even months.

Choose your project schedule wisely.

If your project consists of multiple areas of the house, Shipwash suggests focusing on the highest traffic areas first. “That way, you can plan your arrangements accordingly prior to the crew bringing in all of their stuff,” he says. (And if you’re DIYing, it means that the places you use most often will be done first.)

If you do this, hopefully by the time you’ve had enough of all of the mess and noise your construction team will have moved on to the less high traffic areas of your home, giving you a bit of breathing room. 

Live your life around the noise.

During our renovation, my kindergartner was doing zoom schooling while hammers and saws droned on in the background. And our project wasn’t unique in that regard: When it comes to living alongside construction work, Faraz Tajik, of Crest Builders, Inc., says that the noise can be the biggest issue. Between the actual work and the contractors yelling back and forth to communicate, your home can get pretty loud.

In order to combat the sometimes deafening sounds, Tajik says you should try to contain the construction zone to one area of your home at a time. “If you live in a two-story house, try to renovate one floor at a time,” he says. “Even if it is something as simple as painting the walls. If your house has a separate entrance that may be closer to the area that is under construction, ask the contractor to only use that entrance for access and you and your family use the other one.”

Fortunately, in my kindergartener’s case, a set of headphones did wonders — not to mention, she was far more interested in what was happening on her iPad than she was with the construction work.

Not every project should be done with you at home.

So, okay, living with Tyvek over the windows and having to trek in and out of our house every day using the side door wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but Tajik says that as a rule of thumb most homeowners should try to find somewhere else to stay during most home renovation projects. “Unless it is something simple that takes a few days like switching a vanity and plumbing fixtures or maintenance-related issues, I would recommend the homeowners to find temporary housing,” he says. “Any project that lasts more than 10 days falls in that category.”

Tajik says that his renovation projects usually go for months at a time, so almost all of his projects fall into that category. “If you live in your house during the construction, it almost guarantees that your project will take longer,” he explains. “Contractors must be considerate of noise, dust, hours of construction, etcetera when the homeowners are at home.” That’s something he says means less productivity on their end.

If it’s possible, see if friends or family can host you at least during the noisiest, messiest, or smelliest parts of the reno — or even just see if there’s somewhere else you can hole up during the day. Getting out of the house during demo of your tile floors or while stinky epoxy is in use, for instance, can make a huge difference in your mental well-being and comfort.