Design Green Building & Remodeling

10 Tips for Surviving a Renovation Mess

Yes, it's possible to keep life moving forward and make progress on a home renovation project at the same time. Here's how to do it.
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Plan Carefully

It might seem like a good idea to stay in your home during a major renovation, but you should do so only after careful planning, otherwise your dream project can quickly turn into a nightmare. Renovations take time and space, so you’ll need a well-planned schedule to stay on track as well as smart strategies to help you live relatively comfortably in less square footage. You’ll also need to come up with a plan for minimizing the mess and clutter of a construction project. We’ve put together a list of tactics to help you survive your next renovation without running for the hills.

Choose the Right Season

Timing is everything, and starting your project when the weather is right is crucial. Any projects that may require removing windows or opening exterior walls are best saved for warmer weather. It’s fine to tackle interior projects like painting in the colder months, but you’ll want to crank up the heat to speed up drying time.

Declutter and Host a Yard Sale

Before you start a major renovation project, you should clear the space of any unused or unnecessary items—which means that this is a great time to host a yard sale or list your discards on resale sites. You’ll then have less stuff to pack up or move from room to room during your renovation, and you’ll be able to put the extra money toward the project.

Related: 10 Tips for a Money-Making, Hassle-Free Yard Sale

Rent a Storage Container

A good way to temporarily clear unnecessary items from your house is to rent a small storage container to hold furniture or other big items during a renovation. These portable units can be secured and left in the driveway, so your stored items will be both safe and accessible during the renovation.

Minimize Time Spent Shopping

If you’re living at home during a renovation, you don’t want to be spending unnecessary time at the home center picking up supplies. Preorder as many of the construction materials as you can before the project starts. Although you’ll inevitably have to make a few trips to the store, you can hold these to a minimum by keeping a detailed, running list of tools and materials you’ll need as the project progresses. Grab that list each time you head to the store to avoid forgetting something and having to double back.

Keep a Daily Schedule

Creating—and adhering to—a daily schedule will help you to stay on track even if you fall short of your goals from time to time. A schedule will also allow you to look ahead at your plans and determine which days will be the most hectic for everyone in your home.

Plan for Babysitting and Pet Care

Having to take breaks to make peanut butter sandwiches or walk the dog can really destroy your workflow. That’s why having someone to watch your children or pets on particularly hectic days during your renovation can be a lifesaver. Ask family or friends if they can take the kids on the busiest days, and think about signing Fido up for doggy day care on days when contractors or inspectors will be stopping over.

Consider Your Air Quality

Renovation projects produce a lot of dust and they can wreak havoc on your lungs and sinuses. To collect dust and other particulates generated during renovation, it’s a good idea to rent an air scrubber with a HEPA filter. You may also want to close off the renovation area with plastic sheeting fitted with zippers. You’ll be able to breathe easier, literally, and less dust will penetrate into the rest of your home. 

Related: 15 Remarkably Easy Ways to Create a Dust-Free Home

Use Eco-Friendly Cleaning Supplies

No matter how hard you try to contain the construction mess, you’ll probably find yourself cleaning the rest of your home more often during a renovation. Some of the cleaning products you had been using may be too harsh for such frequent use. Instead, find natural and eco-friendly options to clean floors and other surfaces.

Plan for Kitchens or Bathrooms Being Out of Commission

It’s particularly important to plan ahead when your renovation involves the kitchen or bathrooms. If you know you won’t be able to cook for a few days, prepare meals ahead of time or have a plan for choosing healthy takeout. For projects that involve bathrooms, try to leave the toilet in place for as long as possible to make life smoother for your household. And always have a Plan B: Keep family members or close friends on standby who will let you do laundry or shower at their place if you run into an issue that will extend your project’s timeline. If the kitchen or bathroom situation is particularly dire, or if it’s just getting old, consider treating yourself to a night or two in a hotel, where you can shower, relax in a dust-free environment, and keep up your morale.

Set and Stick to a Realistic Budget

Budgets are crucial for all projects, but they’re paramount if you’re planning on staying home during your renovation. If you run out of money mid-renovation, you may need to put things on hold until your finances are in better shape. The project could drag on much longer than you anticipated, and you could end up living with your construction mess for quite a while. 

Related: 7 Budget-Friendly Kitchen Makeover Tips