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How to survive a home renovation

By Holley Price
Courtesy photo
In this photo, taken before the renovation began, the kitchen was dark and closed off from other areas of the home.
Courtesy photo Ten weeks later, the kitchen is lighter, brighter and open, more conducive to family gatherings, and the homeowner loves it!

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- You are so excited! The renovation is finally starting! You love your contractor, he's the best! The faucets are picked out and the tile is on order! Big white pickup trucks are in your drive way first thing every morning! This is great!

Fast forward two weeks, and the thrill is gone.

Your contractor is in your kitchen promptly at seven every morning (every. single. morning). And he and his crew quickly start hammering, drilling and running loud machinery. 

The faucets were just discontinued, that tile you love is back ordered, and you can't get out of the garage for your meeting because of all the big white pickup trucks blocking your way.  This is not great.

Before you run screaming from the house or consider giving up, check out these before and after photos and you can see why so many of us dream of a home makeover that will transform an ordinary room into something that is tailor-made and perfect for you and your family.

This kitchen/family room renovation took approximately 10 weeks and was well worth the inconvenience to this family.  Three girls (age 5-11) and the busy couple were able to acclimate to their temporary lifestyle and new "house mates" (Steve Mooney and crew of M&M Construction) with relative ease.  The family had a great attitude and the luxury of being able to escape to visit family most weekends.  The end result was more than they'd hoped for.  An island, tons of storage and an open feel completely transformed this space.

"M&M, Cory from Darin Fisher and Holley worked really well together and took care of any problems that came up and were able to bring the project to a close on time and we couldn't be happier " says the home owner.  She continues by saying "I love the storage, organization and functionality of my new kitchen but I really love the serene beauty of it.  I never dreamed I could have a space in MY home that looks like this!"

The best way to way to survive a renovation (beyond moving out of the country) is to be prepared and have a good attitude.  Realize that things will almost certainly go wrong.

You and your family should all feel comfortable with your contractor and his crew - because you will come to know one another more than you might imagine before things get started.

They will be walking in, out and around your house at 7 a.m. while you get your family out of bed, out of the shower and out of the house, at the same time answering questions and making decisions about the work for the day.

If you have a designer, use them not just for the design phase but also for the renovation phase - something many people don't think about. Even if you didn't have someone design your new, updated look, a designer can come in ahead of the work and smooth the process. This is especially important for families in which both spouses work. 

Your designer can recommend a reliable, skilled contractor and work closely with them, making sure things are moving along, helping make decisions that would otherwise pull you out of work or hold up progress for the day.

Your designer will also know when any delays and additional expenses are both necessary and unavoidable.

A good designer can flesh out your vision and make sure supplies are ordered in a timely manner so the contractor isn't hanging out at your house waiting on materials. In this case, time really is money - yours.

Even in the best of circumstances, an in-home renovation is challenging. Here are a few tips to make it easier and smoother:

1.  In the case of a kitchen renovation, set up a temporary kitchen in another room.  Move your refrigerator, microwave and set up a pantry in a room that can be devoted as a kitchen space. The dining room is usually an ideal space.

Invest in an electric burner or two and get the crockpot out.  Restaurant meals will get very expensive and very frustrating quickly.  Your waist and wallet will thank you.

If you're re-doing a bathroom, figure out how best to be sure that an alternate restroom can accommodate everyone in the family as needed. Move toiletries and personal supplies so you don't have to tiptoe around a crew of workmen to grab your toothbrush.  Get used to the workers seeing you in your robe and rollers, you're not the first and you won't be the last.

2. Be prepared for unexpected time and expense delays.  Your contractor can't predict that there are bad floor joists or bad wiring that must be replaced when they tear out a wall.  They are required by law to correct problems they come across. 

I like to have my clients prepare for any unexpected expenses with a contingency budget, which will act as a financial pillow for the unexpected. Usually these things don't happen, but if you are mentally and financially prepared, it won't be as devastating. We are lucky to be in a great community with a lot of wonderful, honest contractors who want everyone happy at the end of the day, so don't take delays out on them.

3. Kids are usually very adaptable to construction in the home, as long as you try to keep their schedules as regular as possible. 

They see this as an adventure -- they're making loads of cool new adult friends who can work wonders with power tools.  If you can embrace even a fraction of their enthusiasm for the project, it will make the weeks of renovation much more tolerable. 

4. The adults involved also need to adjust their schedules to keep their routines as steady as possible.  For instance, if you need an hour of quiet time each morning before you get going, adjust your wake up alarm so you get your coffee and zen time in before those prompt workers arrive.

Give yourself a break on house cleaning and be prepared for construction dust everywhere. Think of it as a housework hall pass and let it slide.

5. Try to schedule a vacation during the renovation, even if it's going to the in-laws for the weekend. Everyone will appreciate the break from the chaos.

6.  And lastly, keep your eye on the prize.  When you need to go in your closet and scream, do it. Then come back out with a smile on your face.

Soon you'll be standing in your new beautiful kitchen, master bath or sunroom.  The weeks of inconvenience will be a distant memory, and you'll be recommending your great team to all your friends.

Holley Price is the owner and manager of Holley Price Interiors in Charleston. She can be reached at (304) 421-1505 or by email at holleypriceinteriors@gmail.com">holleypriceinteriors@gmail.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter: @Holley_Price.


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