Home Reno Journal Entry – 1 June 2023
Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve been living on a building site. By the time you read this, we may be done, but as I write this my home renovation is a month underway. This will be an account of our home renovation journey. What is it really like to live in the actual house that’s being renovated? I’m going to break down what we’re doing to stay sane and how we’ve set things up at home… and reflect on what could be better. Can you survive a home reno?
We opted not to move out for the duration of the project, so we are stuck on a building site with half a home. I’m also managing the project so being on the actual site most of a day has been great for that. Especially as we’ve hired a few separate contractors instead of one in-house team. I’ve been coordinating who’s on-site and when.
Our particular renovation involves our kitchen and living areas, and our home is in Strand in the Western Cape.
How To Survive Your Home Reno Contractors
Listen to your intuition. Vibe check is important.
We’ve been blessed to work with a team mostly comprised of people that we already knew. We knew they were all hard workers who always do their best to deliver high-quality work and keep a project moving. Trusting your contractors and being able to comfortably communicate with them is extremely important.
Speaking of communication…
Keep communication lines with your contractors constantly open. Ask all the questions, even if you think it’s dumb. Get clarity on what they’re going to do and make sure they know what you expect them to be doing. Have a “Scope of Works” meeting before the project commences so that everyone is on the same page. Sometimes things that you assumed were included may have been left out of the quote and will be an extra expense. For example, some materials may be for your own account.
Ask friends and family about contractors they have hired themselves. If they were happy with the service they got they’ll be eager to share contact details. We highly recommend all of our contractors. You can find a more detailed account of what they did on our project, as well as their contact details here: https://designelements.co.za/home-reno-stars-our-amazing-contractor-team/
How Your Household Can Survive A Home Renovation
It is so important to plan and prepare for your home renovation well in advance. Especially when so many different working disciplines are about to converge on your home. You need to make sure you have space to move around in. You still need day-to-day living conveniences. Set yourself up for success.
Weeks before this renovation officially began, I packed up everything from the kitchen that we wouldn’t need, an entire wall of books, and all the décor items we had. We’ve since filled our bedrooms with boxes (mostly our son’s). We’ve also shoved our sectional couch and TV into the bedroom my husband is still using as his remote office. Furniture items have been moved to whichever space they’ll fit in. The coffee table is in the shed. We were lucky to be able to do all this without moving things into storage. Mostly because we’re lacking a few furniture items.
We’ve set up a “camping kitchen’ under a gazebo in our back courtyard. The portable mini gas hob has been great for cooking (thanks Sis). We’ve got plastic drawer ‘units’ filled with a few plates, bowls, pots, pans, etc. The fridge is in the passage next to the barrier – tucked into an alcove with the microwave crammed in next to it. The kettle and toaster are in our main bedroom, along with mugs and all the coffee & tea things. I’ve commandeered our son’s desk and put it in our bedroom for my own workspace. My usual spot is in the living room – hubby made me a desk in an alcove in 2021.
One of the other things we had to do before demolition could start was to have a new external door installed in our main bedroom. The old wooden one was unusable. We replaced it with an aluminium door, and the new extension will have a door that matches in style and colour. We had another aluminium company make and install that one but weren’t happy with their ever-changing pricing. We were happy to discover Aluminium Industries to do the rest for us in a matching style and at reasonable pricing.
Bowen’s team sealed up our passageway before demolition. This board and plastic barrier has been such a blessing to help prevent construction dust from entering our bedroom and bathroom area. I couldn’t survive a home reno with cement dust on everything. I’d go nuts. Walking dirt from the outdoors into our bedroom has been bad enough.
How Your Sanity Will Survive A Home Renovation
Day-to-day living on a building site is no joke. I suggest having a sort of family meeting with your kids to prepare them for the upcoming inconveniences. Brainstorm what you’ll do to keep cabin fever at bay. Make a plan and stay organised. Chaos adds to the stress.
If your living area is under renovation like mine is, you will need to commandeer a bedroom to designate as the new ‘lounge’. If you already have a TV in your main bedroom, that may become the new evening hangout. Our tv lives in our lounge – we had to move it into our 3rd bedroom. Our 3rd bedroom is actually hubby’s home office. We shoved the sectional sofa and a dresser with the TV on it in along with his desk… The room is not large, but we made it work.
Be mindful of giving your kids attention during the project so they don’t feel that everything is about the house and you’ve forgotten them.
We need plans for the upcoming school holidays if the project spills over our estimated 2 months. Kiddo’s screen time is definitely down. We’ve had a lot more reading time vs. TV time during this reno. Visiting our local library is one of the outings we’re doing – we’re taking out fewer books and going to exchange them more often. Our son’s reading is getting better and better.
Think of other ways to get your kids out of the house a bit more often than usual, even if it’s just to join you at the grocery shop. Lots of playdates at friends’ houses and popping out of the house for an adventure or two.
Get them excited about all the awesome changes. A building site can be quite fun – our son enjoyed the piles of river sand and was intrigued to see progress every day after school. He even helped us choose tiles.
Don’t forget the pets.
Take your dogs for walks at the park or beach as often as you can. They’ll get under the builder’s feet and may be stressed out with all the strangers coming and going on their territory. Introduce your dogs to your contractors. I had to shake the hand of every single new person who stepped foot in our yard so that our boxer would be cool with them being around. She’s very protective. But once we greeted them, she was happy and made some friends to play with her.
Take care of the adults too.
Practice self-care and check in with your partner. Try to keep to your usual routines as much as possible. Focus on the family being a team and it will help you survive your home reno.
Having project milestones to look forward to helps a lot with your psyche. I’m happy to report that after a month using the gazebo kitchen at the back we’ve been able to set up our gas cooking on a table inside the house.
The scullery walls are up; electric and plumbing chasing is complete; and the kitchen floor tiling has been done. The units are coming next week, but it’s much warmer setting up the new temporary kitchen in the renovated kitchen space now that the Winter rains have come early.
The flu I have this week is super awesome… I don’t recommend being sick during a home reno. It’s not great. Keep your immune systems up if you can, and avoid your gazebo kitchen when it’s pouring rain.
Your Home Prep To-Do List:
- Pack all non-essential items away into boxes. Label them so you know what you’ve put where.
- Figure out whether you can tuck some furniture items into other spaces in your home, or whether you need to rent a storage unit for a few months. Take measurements of larger items before you try moving them into other rooms.
- If you’re doing a kitchen renovation, have a plan in place for meals. Set up a temporary kitchen space either in another room or outdoors. If it’s outdoors, make sure it’s protected from bad weather.
- Allow for some takeaway meals in your budget… especially when there’s bad weather
- Maybe nearby family and friends can host you for dinner a few times, even if it’s a bring-and-share situation.
- Make sure you have access points sorted out before the bulk of the project commences.
- Keep necessities in easily accessible spots. You don’t want to have to open 3 boxes (with a knife) to try and find your kitchen scissors.
- Prepare yourself mentally to be inconvenienced for the duration of your reno. Make plans to get out of the house on weekends – especially if you have kids… and/or dogs.
Embarking on a home renovation is a challenging yet ultimately rewarding journey. Trust and clear communication with your contractors are paramount. Keeping your humour when things go wrong on site (and they always do), keeps contractors willing to do the work. Preparing your living space in advance and adapting to temporary arrangements can help maintain your sanity throughout the renovation process.
Equally important is considering the well-being of your family and pets. Openly discuss the inconveniences with your children, engage them in the excitement of the changes, and make plans to get out of the house a bit. Don’t overlook your pets; they also require attention and adjustment during this time.
Finally, to survive a home reno, prioritize self-care and mutual support within your family. Stick to routines as much as possible, take breaks when needed, and keep visualising the end goals. Remember that while the renovation journey may be challenging, the end result—a more functional and beautiful living space—is well worth the effort.
Embrace the transformation and stay positive as you navigate the renovation process. The joy of living in a newly renovated home, personalized to your preferences, is an experience that makes all the hard work truly worthwhile.
You can survive a home renovation!