Most experts agree that if you’re renovating your home, the best idea is to move out while the work is being done. If that isn’t possible, here are a few things you can do to make the experience easier-for you and the contractor.
Prepare the house: Move anything you don’t want damaged (art, furniture, electronics) into a part of the house not being worked on-or move it into storage. Not only will your things be safe, but more space makes it easier for workers to do their job. Store your clothing in plastic garment bags, and protect floors with heavy duty cardboard or construction paper taped at the edges. Most important, make sure you completely seal off work areas with industrial plastic sheeting. “Drywall dust is unbelievably pervasive,” says Su Grimmer of Eyecatcher Design in Nanaimo, B.C. “It’s like after you go swimming in the ocean and you think, ‘How did sand find its way there?’ The more adamant you are about taping, the less the dust will be a problem later.”
Create chaos-free zones: Set up a makeshift kitchen in another area of the house. A microwave, toaster oven and rented bar fridge can suffice for a couple of months. “We once put a client’s kitchen in her garage,” says Grimmer. Make sure there are areas of the house that are “family only,” and set up creature comforts like the television and kids toys there. If you have small children, make sure the work area is secured with physical barricades, whether workers are on site or not.
Get out of the house: Friends and relatives will often take pity on you when you’re renovating; accept all offers of dinner, play dates and weekend getaways. Also try to schedule family holidays during renovation time-just make sure you can be contacted should any questions or problems arise while you’re away.
Hire professional cleaners: There are companies that specialize in post-reno cleaning. “They come in and suck the living daylights out of every nook and cranny,” says Grimmer. “I always have clients factor that into their budget, so once the job is done they go back to a clean house that’s ready to enjoy.”
Keep your sense of humour: During a renovation, surprises will happen. Things will get dirty. It will be noisy. And it will probably take longer than you anticipate. Keep the lines of communication open and try to meet these challenges calmly and with an open mind. And if all else fails, take Grimmer’s advice: “I find wine helps a lot.”
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