Living through a home renovation project comes with challenges. But if you can get through them, you’ll find great rewards on the other side! Grab my top tips for how to survive a home renovation and make it a positive experience.
Many people purchase homes with the intention of remodeling them. Others decide after years of living in their house that it’s time to do a major update.
But getting quotes to hire out a renovation project can be a shockingly expensive reality check.
If you’ve gotten quotes for home renovation services and they were just more than you could (or wanted to) afford, you CAN do the job yourself. Doing it that way will save a ton of money while also getting a fantastic final product!
Be forewarned: living through a major renovation project definitely has its challenges. So, I’m going to share our experience of living through a home remodel, along with some major tips from our perspective!
Keep reading to see what we learned about how to survive a home renovation project gracefully (with all family members still loving each other).
Our Home Renovation Story
When Scott and I made the decision to move into our house last August, we did so knowing we would be remodeling the entire thing.
We couldn’t wait to move in after our closing date and moved in on August 7th (our third wedding anniversary!). Then, we celebrated by eating takeout next to a stack of boxes and falling asleep on a mattress in the middle of the living room.
At 8 am the following day, before we ever unpacked a single box, we got to work and began demolition.
Over a period of two days, we tore out:
- the wood paneling in the living room
- the entire kitchen
- three walls
- over 1000 square feet of carpet
In addition to all of that, we also ripped broken skylights out of the ceiling, pulled down old light fixtures, and yanked incredibly heavy curtains right out of the wall.
Scott and I were elated with our progress. We were looking at all we had done and feeling like we were practically remodeling royalty – the next Chip and Joanna Gaines.
After all, we’d seen all the home renovation shows on TV and just knew we would be enjoying our gorgeous, newly remodeled home within a month or two. 😂
We were terribly wrong. So very, very wrong.
Our Major Renovation Took Longer Than We Originally Thought
Instead of taking a couple of months, it took us nearly FIVE MONTHS just to have a functioning kitchen.
That means that all the electricity and plumbing were in the right place, and we had enough working lights to see. It wasn’t pretty yet.
But it was enough that we were able to cook our first meal in our house on Christmas Eve, which we laughingly called our very own Christmas miracle.
See how happy I was to have a working sink? Praise the Lord! 😁
Over the next year, we remodeled the following:
- dining room
- hall bath
Then we began working on the bedrooms.
It was a messy, exhilarating, exhausting, and irritating experience. But, over the course of 18 months, we gained invaluable real-life experience to share with you.
Tips For Surviving A Major Home Renovation Project
Here are some tips for how to gracefully survive living in a house you are remodeling. These are things I didn’t know but really wish I had before we got started!
1) Be Realistic
I’ll tell you a little secret… Sometimes, TV shows can be misleading. Surprised? We sure were!
When we told our parents we thought we’d be done with our kitchen remodel in a month or so, they laughed. Once again, our parents knew best.
Realistically, remodeling a house when you aren’t a professional designer or contractor and have full-time jobs is much different from television scenarios.
You should also be realistic with your budget. My husband and I now tell everyone who asks our opinion to take their timeline and budget and triple them to get an accurate number. We aren’t joking!
2) Be Prepared
I recommend getting physically prepared and then taking time to mentally prepare for your home renovation.
Luckily we took our parents’ advice and set aside one room to use as an “efficiency apartment.” This 100 square foot room housed our TV, couch, and books.
The room also had an entrance into the guest bathroom, which we used solely as a makeshift kitchen. Thankfully we had wisely decided to have one box of absolute kitchen essentials set aside when we packed.
At the end of each day, we could go into our little “kitchen,” shut the door and “cook” up simple meals such as sandwiches or microwave a meal. Then, we’d handwash our dishes and leave them out on the counter to dry. It was kind of like living in a dorm room again!
Having this living space “off-site” and separate from the renovation area gave us the ability to take a step away from the project (and the drywall dust) and unwind when we needed to.
If you are planning to renovate your entire home as we did, I highly recommend you plan ahead and do something similar!
Here’s a super ugly photo of our makeshift apartment. Notice the giant bottle of wine by the TV? There’s another tip for you. 😉
3) Be Flexible
Despite careful planning, there are times when things simply won’t go as planned.
An electrical outlet will be in the wrong place, a wall won’t be able to be moved, a faucet won’t fit in the sink. It happens.
If you’re able to be fluid with your timeline and your design, you can look at these setbacks as challenges to solve rather than roadblocks to your goal.
4) Be Inspired
Look for inspiration in unexpected places. They’re gifts that keep you moving forward!
Scott and I were at a beautiful restaurant on a trip in North Carolina, debating about what kind of countertops we wanted to get when we noticed the restaurant’s amazing countertops! As it turns out, they were concrete.
We researched the process and ended up casting and placing our own concrete countertops into our kitchen. We both agree that they are one of the best projects we’ve tackled.
Inspiration can strike you in many places. A great article in a magazine or on the internet are obvious places. But don’t discount places like dressing rooms, shops, and restaurants when you need some renovating inspiration.
Take note of your favorite places, snap pictures, and study ideas you love. Then, find the common theme and implement it into your own space.
5) Be Social
For us, the worst part of the remodel was the first several weeks and months when we were determined to finish as soon as possible. We spent literally every weekend and weeknight working on our house.
We turned down invitation after invitation to spend time with others so we could plow through our remodel, which led to burnout and resentment. Big mistake!
Take the time to dress up, go out and have fun! It’ll help you recharge so you can keep moving forward.
Don’t let your remodel take over your life – it will try.
Have people over, too. If they love you, they won’t mind that your house is kind of dusty and covered in nails and other materials. 🙂 Or, if you feel more comfortable, go to their house or out somewhere with friends. It’s worth it!
6) Unplug And Get Away
Whether it’s a weekend trip, a day trip, or just an hour – take some time for yourself.
Relax with a book or have your nails done or get a massage. Downtime is awesome, even if it’s in your own backyard on the best swinging outdoor bed of all time!
7) Be Able To Think Long Term
Once we realized this project would take quite a while, we looked at our remodeling process in stages:
- Stage 1 was to get the basic necessities up and functioning.
- Stage 2 was to make them look somewhat decent.
- Stage 3 was to decorate and finish.
For example, our kitchen’s stage one was to have the stove, sinks, cabinets, and countertops all in place. Then, stage two was to add the cabinet doors, backsplash, and paint.
We left our kitchen in stage two for six months or so while we took our hall bathroom, dining, and living rooms through stages one and two.
A year and a half later, we were finally in stage three (the home decor phase) of our kitchen – grouting backsplash, adding cabinet pulls, upgrading appliances, and installing pendant lights.
Figure out what you absolutely need versus want and what will make your life the easiest.
8) Be Kind
This is especially important for those of you working with a significant other or a friend. Be kind to one another. It’s easy for tempers to flare when you are both tired, irritated, and overwhelmed.
Take time to laugh about the frustrating things and be nice to one another. After all, you’re in it together. Enjoy the ride!
People have often teased us that our marriage must be crumbling (like our walls), but I can honestly say our relationship has never been better. We have so many inside jokes between us and have truly learned how to support one another.
I can say with certainty Scott has seen me at my worst. We have survived sparks flying out of the wall, crawling under the house, and ripping down walls like the Hulks we are. What can’t we tackle together?
9) Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
We are super lucky because our parents and friends were a great support system – physically and emotionally! We could not have survived living in a remodel without them!
If you’re doing a major project like this while raising young children, don’t be afraid to ask for babysitting time so you can work. Home renovation can be dangerous, so it might be better to have them out of the house when you’re busy working.
Above all, take heart! It’s just for a season, and your “new home” is the end goal. It looks sort of something like this…
And maybe even this…
Just hang on for two years or so – you’ll be just fine. 😂
Just remember that I’m right there with you all. Maybe I should start a support group…Remodelers Anonymous, anyone?
For those of you who have lived through the home remodeling ordeal – what are your tips? Add them in the comments!
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