We’re currently remodeling our master bathroom, and by that I mean, we actually hired a team of contractors to do the work (our first time ever doing that!) This bathroom renovation isn’t the first major remodel we lived through in our home, in fact–it’s our last! But we’ve only done a couple like it, where our entire lives kind of get flipped upside down.
The photo above is from the Pittsburgh kitchen we did in 6 days. But our own kitchen remodel, we did in 7 weeks and made a make-shift pantry and kitchen in our front room during that time. When we ripped up all the flooring on our entire main level, we moved all of our furnishings and belongings downstairs and lived underground for 6 weeks. But this time feels a little different than those because we’re not the ones doing the work. Which is wonderful, but adds an element of…alertness? to the entire thing that can leave you somehow just as exhausted at the end of the day.
Before I get into the tips we’ve picked up along the way of living through a remodel, I want to share one big mistake we’ve made. Since we’re not the ones physically doing the work in our bathroom remodel, we thought we could continue at full speed with our other obligations, renovations and work. We signed contracts for big projects. We started tackling a room at our cabin (an hour away) at the same time that’s due this week! In my head, I thought since the bathroom was taken care of, we could fill our work calendar with all the other things we usually do. And that was a mistake.
Regardless if you’re doing the work yourself, or hiring it out, a home remodel is still a lot of work and effort! It still requires your attention and I’d recommend clearing your schedule of as many extras as possible before beginning.
Here are 10 more tips for living through a major home remodel. (Would love to hear any additional ones you have in the comments!)
1. Make a calendar with your contractors. Before we started, we sat down with our contractors (We’re working with Doug’s Repair for all you locals–can’t recommend them enough!) and we looked at dates and set a start date and a goal end date. Then, they filled in what would happen every day and gave us a copy of the calendar. This has been so incredibly helpful! Not only does it help set expectations across the board, but it helps us see if we’re still on track and what’s coming up. (Like, windows this week!)
2. Have a section of your home that stays in order and clean so it can serve as a sanctuary away from the job. Remodels are messy and if you aren’t mindful, it can spill into other areas of your home. But, by making an effort to keep the other spaces in our home clean and tidy–heck, light a candle and buy some flowers if it helps!–we are still able to enjoy our home even with a holes in the ceiling and drywall dust a room over.
3. Pack up what you don’t need from the room. In the case of our bathroom renovation, we packed away clothes, shoes, and bathroom supplies we could live without for a month. But maybe it’s furniture, kitchen supplies or decor in your renovation’s case. Whatever it is, packing it up and storing it is a lot better than stuffing it in another room, unorganized. And bonus, when the renovation is over, you may not need all the extra after all.
4. Make sure you have everything on hand before you start. (Or at least ordered with delivery dates in sight!) I can’t stress the importance of this enough. Plumbing always seems to take forever to arrive and they are likely going to need it very first. Waiting on supplies to be delivered messes up the renovation calendar and causes expensive setbacks. Besides final decor pieces, having everything you need for the remodel in your home, and organized (I love to label the boxes with what is inside) will keep everyone sane and happy.
5. Cover areas with dropcloths or tarps during work days to help combat dust. One of the main questions I get asked is, How are you handling all the dust?! Our crew is really amazing at making sure everything is tarped off before they start working and they always clean up before leaving for the day. That doesn’t mean our nightstands aren’t covered with a layer of dust, but it also feels manageable. I also thinks it helps to expect dust. With an active crawler, I know that vacuuming and a dust mop are a part of my daily agenda throughout the renovation.
6. Make sure you have extra money in your budget. When we got an estimate of what the bathroom was going to cost, we saved 25% more before starting. And I’m so grateful we did! Not only is it good for any surprises (we were so sure they were going to find mold, but they didn’t! However, they did find some standing water in one of the toilet pipes that needed fixing.) But it is also nice to have for extras that come up that maybe you hadn’t thought of. Like, when our contractor brought up the idea of a recirculating pump (more about that in this post) that ended up costing us $500 extra, but was so worth it and we had the money set aside already.
7. Take pictures every step of the way. Obviously we’re going to take pictures because we’re bloggers, but blogger or not, taking before, progress and after photos help create a history of the project. They can be used down the road to help sell or price your home. They can gauge progress (when you’re having one of those days where it feels like nothing is happening!), they can even serve as a reminder of how things were wired, laid out or put together in the case of future repairs.
8. Keep up on your daily routines. One thing we’ve been super mindful of is making sure our girls don’t feel the stress of the remodel seep into their routines, and in turn, it has helped us stay pretty level headed, too. Because our contractors arrive and leave at the same time every day, that has become part of our routine just like making meals, bath times, homework, naps–it all MUST GO ON. It’s easy to fall into the eat out every meal, skip the gym or stay up late when part of your life/house feels so out of sorts, but sticking with as much of the normals as possible has really cut down on a lot of stress for our girls especially. I don’t even think they realize mom and dad don’t have a bathroom right now. Ha!
9. Stay organized, but be forgiving of yourself. Even with all the parts of the bathroom labeled in boxes, a calendar of bathroom check points, unnecessary things boxed up until it’s all done, our daily toiletries lined up in the hall bathroom linen cabinet and our room lined with clothes hung on rolling garment racks–there are still times when I feel overwhelmed. And that’s okay. Part of being forgiving of yourself is recognizing you’re in a stressful situation, but also understanding how fortunate you are to be getting a brand new ______!!
10. Be present. Peek in a lot. Ask questions. It’s your house! One of the first things I said to the contractors working on our bathroom was, “I’m very invested in this project, if there’s anything you’re not 100% sure on, please ask.” It opened up a great line of friendly communication that I really value. Don’t be afraid to peek in on your project (I do ALL DAY LONG!) or ask questions or voice concerns. Almost every morning, I meet with Scott, our main contractor, and go over a short list of questions or concerns about things that either Chris or I noticed or thought. Whether it be the shower head height, a new thing I read about soft-closed pocket doors or a mix up with shower valves. And he makes sure all the concerns and questions are resolved. He also consults with us all day long, on every detail which I truly appreciate. In the end, it’s your home–Speak up!
We’d love to hear if there is anything in your experiences you would add!
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Make yourself right at home