Sunday, July 29, 2012

Surviving a Home Renovation

As you probably know if you have read any of my previous posts (or whines), my husband and I are under a massive home renovation.  When I say massive I mean walls torn down to the studs, large, unfilled cutouts to the backyard, floors that look down to the basement, taking sledgehammer to walls, using I-Phones as means of lights, cooking with a camp stove type of renovation.  Now, I admit, I am a bit of a girly-girl.  When my husband told me he wanted a fixer, I imagined more of a new paint color, sewing curtains, creating a wallpaper accent wall type of project.  And, the fact that I love to cook and bake, makes it very hard to not have a kitchen.  But, to get in to this wonderful neighborhood with the world's most fabulous neighbors, a fixer was the only option.  So I jumped on board to the home renovation with both feet.

My husband is probably one of the hardest working, handiest people I know.  And to save money and take some ownership for our house, we are doing as much of the work as we possibly can ourselves.  And, while a lot of it has been enjoyable, it can be incredibly stressful especially since this is our first year of marriage, we are both working full-time, and this is what we have to come home to:

Blue painters' tape from the front door
Our Dining Room
The entirety of our kitchen
I like to call this the "art gallery"

All sarcasm aside, I do love our house and am so excited for what it will become.  And living through this process has led me to come up with tips for surviving your own home remodel.

1)  Stay organized: Anyone who knows me will fall on the floor laughing when they see me talking about organization.  I am truly a human tornado, leaving a mess of disorganization everywhere I go.  But my wonderful husband is extremely organized and has taught me the value of organization in this process.  It is hard to keep your sanity when you are spending half of your time looking for a tool or part you need.  And it is hard to see your progress when you are living in a constant construction dust mess.  So, I am about to utter words I rarely do but should: Honey, you were right!

2) Know Your Limits: We have tried to do as much of the work as possible ourselves on the house.  And as skilled as my husband is when it comes to construction, he can not do the whole project himself and he knows that.  There are certain things that we have had to hire out either because of lack of time or lack of knowledge in that particular area.  My advice to anyone tackling a large scale construction project is to not attempt to do things alone that you really don't know how to do.  If you have no experience in electrical work, don't try and re-wire your house.  If you have no experience with plumbing, don't try and install a toilet by yourself.  Don't be afraid to ask for help and call in the experts; you'll save yourself time, money, and headaches in the end.

3)  Divide and Conquer: When your a couple doing construction, each of you are going to have your own strengths.  My knowledge of construction extends to calling tools "thingy ma jigs"  and calling screw guns "screw-removers".  But that doesn't mean I can't be of assistance in our home renovation.  While my husband is working on the house, I can pick up the slack in other areas like doing all of our laundry, working on the yard, feeding our "crew", helping with the clean-up process, running errands, and everything else that needs to get done around the house.  So, just because you don't know the difference between a hacksaw and a tile-saw doesn't mean you are not helping with the process.

4)  Set a Budget.....and Double What You Think Everything Will Cost: Let's face it, home renovation is expensive.  But you don't really know how expensive until you are in to it. There are always going to be unexpected costs that come up in the process and you will save yourself a lot of stress if you have saved money in your budget a head of time.  If you get an estimate for $3000 for new hardwood floors, save $5000 in your budget.  If someone quotes you$1500 for tile, put aside $2000.  You might not spend all of the money on what you saved it for, but you will most likely spend it somewhere on something you didn't anticipate like on a leaky basement or a broken water heater.  And if you come out ahead of budget, you will have extra money to take a much needed vacation to Hawaii. :)

5)  Know What Needs to Be Done Now, and What You Can Save for Later:  When our main floor is done and we are ready to show it off to friends and family, I would love to have all brand-new stainless steel appliances in the kitchen and a new wine bar in our dining room.  But, as mentioned above, we don't have room in the budget for everything that we want to do.  When making sacrifices, we had to decide what would be the easiest to save for later once everything else is all done.  And while I would love a new stainless steel refrigerator, that is much easier to save for later then trying to put in new windows or a new door to the backyard.  As hard as it is to compromise on your vision,  take a step back and compromise on things that can be done later.

6)  Rally the Troops:  When you start a home renovation, the amount of work that needs to be done can seem daunting.  To help ease the stress of the workload, call your friends and family in to action.  Order a few, gluten-free pizzas, get some gluten-free beer, and invite people over for painting parties or an evening of wallpaper removal.  Having a group of people not only helps the process go faster but it also makes it fun!  And most people there will find they have a good-time, too.  But remember....

7)  Remember Other People Have Things They Would Rather Do Than Your Home Improvement: While an occasional painting or sanding party can be fun, most people don't want to spend their entire weekend on your home renovation.  Just ask when you truly can not get something done without the help of others so people don't feel taken advantage of.  Unless, they're your parents.  Then you can ask every weekend. Right, Mom and Dad?

8) Keep Your Eyes on the Prize:  When you are living through a home renovation, it is hard to see the progress you make. A day of back-breaking work putting up a support beam that no one can see may seem underwhelming. Make sure that you keep the end vision of what your project will be in mind to keep your motivation and spirits up.  Read home improvement magazines, design books, and whatever reminds you of what your house will eventually look like.

9) Keep a Sense of Humor: Home renovation sends stress levels up and can cause you to lose perspective.  While it may be hard to see in the moment, yes, it is funny when you step in a can of paint.  It is funny when you trip over power cords (as long as you're not hurt).  If you can laugh through the difficult moments of home renovations, you will most definitely look back on the process with fond memories.

10) Last But Not Least, TAKE BREAKS!  When it comes to home improvement, I am an excellent break-taker, even an exceptional break-taker.  You might say that I am the master of all break-takers! And while some may call that laziness, I call it realism.  You will never survive through an extensive home renovation unless you have the ability to step away from it and enjoy other parts of your life.  When frustration takes over, go on a run or walk.  Take an evening and go out to dinner or a movie.  Even take the weekend and go to the coast for some R&R.  Taking breaks is truly the key to staying sane and having a truly enjoyable home renovation.

And, when all else fails, retreat to the upstairs, eat some chips, watch the Olympics, and post to your blog. ;)


  1. Home renovation can be difficult especially for first timers. I experienced the same thing when I tried to improved my home in BYU Idaho Housing.

  2. Well nice stuff you have shared.....
    I like it.. As these were must be the basic point that we have to undertaken....
    It seems that you were very passionate about you job... that's a good thing .Just the same thing i came across with the 1clickrenosg they too were very straight forword about their work .they used to do their work with full of professionalism which i like most.

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  5. This looks like the perfect dinner meal! It’ll be on the table tonight and I bet the kids will love it too. Thanks for the recipe!UpdateLand