6 Survival Tips to Keep Your Cool During a Home Renovation Project

Nick P. Cellucci
Written by Nick P. Cellucci
Updated December 27, 2021
A family of three spending quality time in the living room
Photo: 10'000 Hours / DigitalVision / Getty Images

There’s no need to sacrifice your serenity during a home reno

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When you and your family are living amidst an ongoing home renovation, it can be all too easy to lose sight of your goals and give in to the frustration that comes with noise, dust, discomfort, and disruption of your everyday routines. 

These tips will help you keep frustration in check during your home renovation project.

1. Build a Relationship With Your Contractor

While renovations are ongoing, you’re going to see a lot of the same crew members every day. It’s important to establish open communication with a local contractor you trust and who will empathize with the fact that renovations disrupt your daily life. They may even offer some survival tips of their own based on past experiences with other clients.

Meet with your contractor before the project begins and continually on a daily or weekly basis to stay on the same page regarding expectations, safety measures, costs, schedules, and concerns. You should feel comfortable asking questions and talking to your contractor throughout the project's duration. It’s your home, after all!

2. Establish Clear Schedules

Having a schedule goes a long way toward maintaining a feeling of control over the chaos of your home renovation. Here are a few schedules to work out with your contractor upfront.

Work Hours

Ask which days and what times the pros plan to work at your home. Tell the crew if your homeowners’ association has work hour restrictions.

Project Timeline

Establish start and end dates for your project, and dates to expect significant milestones. For example, if you’re remodeling your kitchen, find out when they’ll finish painting, laying floors, and installing cabinetry and appliances. This timeline can be flexible to account for unforeseen issues and setbacks, but your contractor should tell you of any changes.

Payment Schedule

Your contract should include a clear payment schedule that isn’t simply time-based. Instead, it should tie to job progress and milestone completion. Establish a procedure for change orders, or work to be added or deleted from the original project scope. You should get these changes in writing.

3. Mentally Prepare for Unforeseen Costs

In general, always expect additional expenses beyond what’s accounted for in your initial budget estimates. While you won’t need it in a best-case scenario, you should set aside a contingency budget to account for unforeseen problems or changes you make along the way.

A good rule of thumb is to set aside an additional 10% to 20% of your total home renovation cost. You can ask your contractor about any specific issues they typically see arising in your type of remodel.

4. Designate Specific Work Areas

An owner and a contractor talking about the house’s renovation
Photo: sturti / E+ / Getty Images

Establish some ground rules and specific areas that workers are allowed to use. This will minimize clutter, avoid confusion, and make your crew more comfortable while they occupy your home. Here are some questions to consider and answer for your contractor:

  • Where can workers eat or take breaks?

  • Are workers allowed to smoke? If so, where?

  • What volume is appropriate for radios and music?

  • What entrances and exits can they use, and which are off-limits?

Another key consideration is the bathroom. Let your contractor know whether you are comfortable with workers using your restroom, and if so, which restrooms are available for their use. Some contractors will rent a portable toilet for their crew to eliminate this issue, but if not, you may wish to provide one on-site. You can rent a portable toilet for about $130 per week.

5. Create a Family Bathroom Strategy

Speaking of bathrooms, home renovations can also complicate bathroom usage, especially in large households. Whether you’re having one or more of your bathrooms renovated or a work area makes one of your bathrooms inaccessible, you may find yourself with fewer bathrooms than usual. If possible, create a work schedule that only disrupts one bathroom at a time.

Create a daily schedule for family members that designates specific times for showers or getting ready for work and school. Remove inessential shower items, linens, appliances, and toiletries to avoid clutter. You can add caddies to help with organization and storage space.

6. Repurpose Non-Work Zones

Unlike the bathroom, some essential spaces don’t have a backup. For example, if you’re going to spend weeks or months without a kitchen, you’ll want to convert a room such as your dining room into a space for meal prep and eating. Stock it with small appliances and nonperishable foods. Adjust to meals that require minimal prep, and rely on disposable dishes and utensils.

You’ll also want to create comfortable living spaces where you and your family can relax away from the dust and noise of the remodel. If necessary, relocate toys, books, electronics, pet crates, and other essentials, taking the opportunity to downsize and declutter as you go. Set up temporary barriers and alternate routes, so kids and pets know which areas to avoid.

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