Where to Live When Renovating: Do You Stay or Move Out?

Laura Hennigan
Written by Laura Hennigan
Reviewed by Robert Tschudi
Updated January 7, 2022
Beautiful modern farmhouse kitchen
Photo: LUGOSTOCK / Adobe Stock

A home renovation is exciting, but the decision to stay or go while work is being done can be tricky

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A home renovation is equal parts exciting and stressful, and you’ll be faced with a lot of choices—some fun (like backsplash tile!) and some not so fun (like whether you want to blow your budget to knock down a wall). One of the biggest decisions will be: do we stay or go? The answer depends on the work you’re having done, the project timeline, and the needs of everyone in your household. 

Here are some important considerations when deciding where to live while renovating your home.

Considerations for Staying or Going During Home Renovation

If you’re not sure what the best decision will be for your family, here are five important questions to ask before the work begins.

How Long is the Project Timeline?

If your renovation project will only take a few weeks, or will be limited to just one or two rooms, it may be worth the extra effort to stay. For example, if an overhaul of the primary bedroom and bathroom takes four weeks to complete, can you move into the guest room for a month? While slightly inconvenient, it may be worth the cost savings to deal with a smaller space for a bit.

Which Areas of the Home are Being Remodeled?

A den or basement renovation is often heard, but not seen, making it easier to live with. Massive work in the kitchen, however, will affect the entire family. Everything from your morning coffee to dinners around the table will need to be modified, and the added stress (and fast food on repeat) may not be worth sticking around for. Count how many times per day you access that space, and then picture where everything would go while the renovation is happening. If it’s too overwhelming to imagine, it might be time to consider a short-term apartment.

“Before we start a remodel, we advise clients to act as if they are living in a public space,” says Bob Tschudi, a Raleigh, NC-based general contractor. “It’s quite surprising to be in a second-story bathroom and suddenly see a ladder and a contractor climbing past the window.”

Are You Working from Home?

Working from home
Photo: bnenin / Adobe Stock

Loud construction in the background and copious amounts of dust aren’t great for Zoom meetings. It may be worth considering moving to temporary housing if a renovation will interfere with your productivity. Another less-costly option would be to rent a flex office or co-working space. This would allow you to have a quiet place to concentrate, and then return home once the contractors have wrapped up their day.

How Tight is Your Budget?

If you have leveraged every single penny for a home renovation, you may not be able to afford a hotel or apartment rental. Depending on the projected timeline, your family may be able to take refuge with friends or relatives for a while. Or maybe you know someone who will generously let you borrow their empty vacation rental. If those aren’t tangible options, you will need to either expand your budget to cover temporary housing, or plan to live around the work.

“We recommend that clients look for local short-term rentals, via websites such as AirBnb or VRBO,” says Bob. “Many hosts will provide discounts for weekly and/or monthly stays. And it doesn’t hurt to contact the host before booking, explain that you are having a major remodeling job, and ask for a bigger discount. We own three AirBnBs and we accommodate this type of situation all the time.”

What are the Physical and Mental Risks?

Beyond the monetary cost, will living through a home renovation take a toll on the physical and mental health of your family? If large amounts of dust will give someone frequent asthma attacks, it’s probably not worth trying to stay in your home. Or if the idea of strangers constantly walking though your space raises your anxiety levels, it may be time to explore a rental.

Choose What Works Best for Your Family

There is no right or wrong answer when deciding whether to stay or go during a home renovation. You’ll need to consider many factors, namely the size of your budget and how much off a mess you will be dealing with.

It’s not unusual to try staying in your house when the work begins to see how long you can stand the dust and noise. Even if you can only put up with it for a week or two, that time will help your financial bottom line. 

And if you determine that moving out temporarily is the best option, try to find a space that will allow the entire family to relax a bit while you eagerly anticipate the day you get to head home.

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