Living through a renovation can be stressful.
Between the noise, dust, and interruptions of daily routines, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But there are some key home remodel dos (and don’ts) to keep your project running smoothly from start to finish.
Whether you’re tackling a basement upgrade, adding a three season room, or going big with a primary bathroom update or total kitchen overhaul, our head designer Steph Morris is sharing her top tips to ensure you survive your home renovation. And are thrilled with the end result.
Here are Steph’s top 5 dos and don’ts for a successful home remodel.
DO — Take Time to Hire the Right Home Renovation Team
The success of your home remodel (and your general happiness throughout the project) largely depend on the expertise and working relationship between you and your team. So don’t rush into a home remodel just because you’re anxious to bring your Pinterest boards to life.
Take the time to research contractors, get referrals from friends and neighbors, and meet with experts to determine timeline, style, and personal compatibility.
Here are a few key questions to ask your contractor/designer before hiring them:
- Are you licensed/insured/familiar with local building codes and permitting? Ideally, the answer to all of the above is “yes”. This shows that your contractor has met certain professional industry standards and is committed to maintaining these standards. Never assume details like this. A reputable contractor will have no trouble answering your questions and providing proof.
- Do you have references/images of past work? You want to ensure your contractor has the experience and skills to deliver end results that exceed your expectations. Don’t be afraid to ask past clients about their experiences with the contractor’s professionalism, adherence to timeline and budget, and quality of work.
- What design and construction specialists will I be able to partner with for my renovation? A major benefit of hiring a design build firm for your remodel is access to a range of professionals — contractors, designers, project managers, etc. Not only does this broaden the scope of what’s possible with your renovation, but it cuts down on miscommunication and eliminates tension between parties since they’re well-versed in working together and have a common end goal.
- How is communication handled? Will there be a point person for my specific project? A home renovation has a lot of moving pieces, so it’s important that you have access to a designated point person to keep things running smoothly and provide you with consistent updates.
Hiring the right contractor for your home renovation makes all the difference.
DON’T rush this step. It’s well worth the added month or two of research and planning to assemble the right team. It could save you time, money, and heartache down the line.
DO — Get Clear on Your Goals and Priorities for Your Renovation
Once you’ve found and hired design and construction experts for your home renovation, it’s vital that you take an active role in the early days of planning. “It’s important to come to the table, to take ownership in the process,” Steph explains. “There’s so much planning, sourcing, and design approvals that happen in the early phases of the project. That’s the time to really pay close attention to the design details. To ask lots of questions.”
“There’s no such thing as a dumb question,” Morris continues. “It’s our job as a trusted guide to help you understand every product, every design detail, every step of the process in your home renovation. If something seems unclear, or you’re unsure — ask questions. I promise we don’t mind!”Steph Morris
Not only does this keep you and your design and construction team on the same page, but it prevents costly issues later on. “I’d always rather slow down in the early design phase of a project to get the details just right than run into hiccups and change orders down the line because details weren’t clear,” Steph explains. “It saves so much time, money, and frustration in the long run to get everyone on the same page up front.”
DON’T go along with a designer’s or contractor’s plans unless you’re over-the-moon excited about them. This is your home, your renovation. You deserve to love the final result.
DO — Make a Plan for Living in a Construction Zone
No matter how tidy your crew is, a renovation is messy. There’s construction dust, noise, plus tools and equipment in your garage or space. You’re likely cut off from a substantial section of your home for weeks at a time. This alters the way you and your family live, work, play, and — if you’re remodeling the kitchen — how you cook and eat at home.
So before you begin construction, consider the following:
- Will you cook and eat meals at home during construction? How? Where? Consider food storage, cooking and prep surfaces, and safety.
- How will you wash dishes or do laundry if cut off from your appliances for an extended period of time?
- How will increased takeout and restaurant meals affect your budget? Even the best laid plans might be interrupted. Know that you’ll likely have a few impromptu restaurant meals during construction. So plan accordingly.
- How might construction affect daily routines? You may be without power and water for extended stretches. Construction noise might interrupt naptime schedules and Zoom meetings. Make a plan to prevent surprises and frustrations during your remodel.
- How will you keep kids and pets safe during renovations? Construction debris, tools, and exposed wiring can all pose safety concerns for curious kiddos and pets. Make a plan to limit accessibility to construction zones to keep little hands and paws safe.
Living at home during a remodel is totally doable, but it does take some preparation. By anticipating and troubleshooting common scenarios before construction starts, you can save yourself some headaches (and dollars).
DON’T hesitate to check in often with your contractor so you know what to expect in the coming days and can plan accordingly.
DO — Prep Your Space Before Demolition Day
Unless you’re renovating a new property you’re not yet living in, chances are you have personal belongings in the space. To prepare for your home renovation and prevent delays, ensure the area is emptied and the adjacent walkways are free from any clutter that could get in the way of workers.
- Remove area rugs and floor mats that could be a tripping hazard or get damaged by dust and construction debris.
- Pack up wall art and decor in adjacent rooms. Construction causes wall vibrations that can knock beloved heirlooms off shelves. Save yourself the heartbreak and pack up decorative objects before construction begins.
- Protect your fabrics and upholstery. Remodels create a lot of dust. Cover upholstery with plastic or old sheets and remove window treatments if possible to keep them dust-free and make post-construction cleanup a breeze.
DON’T expect crews to work around your personal belongings, or to move them for you. To make the most of your remodel — and your relationship with your contractor — spend the time to pack up and prepare the space before demo day.
DO — Find Ways to Escape and Destress
There’s no way around it — home renovations can be stressful. Daily routines are interrupted, you might go stretches without plumbing or electricity, and your home is noisier, dustier, and more chaotic than normal.
Make a list of potential ways to escape and destress during your home’s renovation:
- Step away with neighborhood walks or picnics at community parks.
- Schedule a massage or manicure.
- Go to the movies.
- Make a plan to send the kids (or pups) to Grandma’s for a few days.
Stress during home construction is inevitable. But if you’ve taken the time to find the right contractor and design team, you can rest assured your home is in good hands.
DON’T forget: the chaos is temporary. And the beautiful end result will be well worth the mess and hassles along the way.