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Living-In Home Renovation Guide: How To Achieve And Survive It

Living-In Home Renovation Guide: How To Achieve And Survive It

Picture of the owner of Birkes BuildersDavid Birkes
Owner | General Contractor & Builder
Birkes Builders
Published On:
August 15, 2023
Last updated:
August 15, 2023
a living room filled with furniture and windows

How to renovate a house while living in it

Welcome to the Chaos - Renovating While Living In It

Inviting the whirlwind of renovation into your home is akin to willingly stepping into a tempest of dust, disarray, and disruption. But fear not, brave soul!

Embarking on this journey can be a rewarding endeavor if armed with realistic expectations and a solid game plan. Welcome to the wild ride of renovating your humble abode while continuing to inhabit it.

Perhaps you are inspired by those seemingly magical before-and-after home improvement shows or simply motivated by necessity; whatever your reasons, the choice to stay put during renovations calls for courage and a heaping spoonful of optimism. But rest assured that amidst all the chaos there is an opportunity for growth, discovery, and yes--even fun.

To help you navigate this process with grace and fortitude, we have compiled an extensive guide filled with experienced insights and practical tips. This journey will encompass everything from setting accurate expectations, organizing meticulous plans, revealing survival strategies up our sleeves to discussing the eternal debate - hiring professionals versus doing it yourself (DIY).

A Gritty Symphony -- Setting The Stage For Your Home Transformation

Much like how a maestro conducts an orchestra through crescendos and diminuendos in symphonies, similarly navigating through your home's transformation requires finesse. The raw cacophony of demolition might seem overwhelming at first but remember that it is merely the prelude as you set about harmonizing every nook and cranny of your house. Prepare for an adventure that draws parallels to treasure hunting as uncovering layers in your old property could lead you down memory lane or reveal surprises from previous occupants.

Yes! Every wall knocked down entails a story told or a secret unrolled!

Keep reminding yourself that amidst these gritty beginnings lay the promise of fresh spaces catered specifically for you designed meticulously by none other than -- You! Envisioning this end goal would serve as motivation even during seemingly tough stretches while adding another dimension of excitement throughout this journey.

The Harmony within Chaos -- Achieving Balance Amidst Disruption

Renovations are synonymous with upheaval which often disrupts our daily routines but focusing on everyday harmony even amidst all this chaos would go a long way in ensuring overall well-being throughout this journey. Remember - where there's chaos there's also room for creativity!

Your living space might soon resemble a construction site but visualizing each step would help maintain perspective while also promoting mental preparedness ensuring smoother transitions between stages right from demolition through rebuilding phases. In essence - brace yourself not just physically but mentally too because every renovation task requires adequate planning which ultimately results in successful execution thereby reducing potential stressors along this exhilarating path leading towards achieving your dream dwelling.

Setting Expectations: "What's the Real Deal? - The Reality of Living in a Renovation Zone"

Dust Bunnies & Noise Pollution - The Unavoidable Side Effects

Before embarking on any renovation journey, it's crucial to comprehend that your house won't just be a construction site; it will also be an incubator for dust bunnies and a soundtrack of constant noise. Dust will become your unwanted companion, sneaking into every crevice and corner of your home.

No surface will be safe from its insidious spread, and you'll find yourself fighting what often feels like an unwinnable war against this pervasive nuisance. Additionally, forget about those tranquil Saturday mornings with a cup of coffee in peaceful silence.

Replacement windows bring the harsh cacophony of power tools; bathroom remodels echo with the rhythmic duet of hammering and drilling. Each task comes bundled with its unique symphony of sounds that can fray nerves over time.

However, rest assured that these are transient discomforts. With adequate planning and some form of temporary soundproofing like noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs, you can mitigate the most significant impacts.

And as for our dusty friends? Well, frequent cleaning sessions and air purifiers can help keep them at bay.

Time Warp - Why Renovations Always Take Longer Than Expected

When charting out your renovation timeline, it's quite tempting to envision everything proceeding smoothly: demolition on Monday, new fittings by Friday -- voila! A brand-new living area by the weekend!

Regrettably though, reality is often not as accommodating as one would hope when dealing with home renovations. The initial timeline is more often than not an optimistic best-case scenario rather than an accurate prediction.

Unforeseen issues frequently pop up once walls are opened or floors are ripped up - water damage behind the shower tiles or faulty wiring lurking behind walls are common culprits causing delays. Thus it's practical to buffer in extra weeks (or even months) into your schedule for these unexpected hiccups.

Remember -- good things take time! And whilst going through these delays might feel like you're trapped in a frustrating time warp; patience is truly key when living through renovations.

Budget Busters - Hidden Costs You Might Not Have Considered

It doesn't matter if you've triple-checked your budget spreadsheet till you're blue in the face -- unexpected costs have a way of creeping into overarching renovation projects much like our dust bunny friends we discussed earlier! These financial setbacks come in many forms: perhaps it's discovering that period-style light fixtures cost twice as much as modern ones or realizing halfway through construction that additional structural support is needed. If history (and too many TV shows!) has taught us anything about renovations; they always cost more than initially anticipated due to unforeseen problems hidden away from sight until construction begins.

Therefore cushioning your budget by accounting for 10-20% overages may save you some unwanted surprises down the line. And lastly remember - while cost control certainly matters; don't lean too heavily towards penny-pinching either because quality should never be compromised entirely for price considerations alone.

Blueprints and Dream Boards - Planning Your Renovation Wisely

The Big Picture -- Creating a Comprehensive Project Plan

As the adage goes, "Fail to plan, plan to fail." When it comes to renovations, having a comprehensive project plan is not just desirable--it's indispensable. Before you even pick up a hammer or sift through color swatches for that dream kitchen countertop, it's essential to have a detailed roadmap. The primary aspect of this planning involves making a master list of all the changes you wish to implement--from major structural changes right down to minute details like hardware finishes and paint textures.

In mapping out your project plan, consider the functional needs of your home's occupants. If you have kids or pets, safety should be paramount in your planning.

Furthermore, think about how each room serves its unique purpose and design alterations based on that. Will your living room need extra storage space?

Does the bathroom layout need tweaking for better functionality? These considerations will help guide your renovation decisions.

Software tools are available to help with this planning phase--giving you an idea of what the finished result will look like before work begins. Programs like SketchUp or AutoCAD can be invaluable resources here--even for those without any architectural knowledge--as they allow you to play around with different layouts and design elements virtually.

Money Matters -- Setting and Sticking to Your Budget

Next comes arguably one of the most crucial parts of any renovation project: determining your budget. While we would all love limitless funds for our dream house makeover, reality often dictates otherwise. Start by making an exhaustive list of estimated costs for each element in your renovation--everything from construction materials down to d�cor accents.

You'll also want to account for unforeseen expenses as renovations frequently come with surprises--be it hidden problems discovered during demolition or cost overruns from unexpected delays. A good rule of thumb is setting aside 15-20% of your overall budget as contingency funds for these seemingly inevitable hiccups.

Once set, stick diligently to your budget! It's easy in the throes of enthusiasm (or under pressure) to splurge on that luxury tile or premium appliance but remember each addition alters the financial landscape drastically unless accounted for initially.

Order Up! -- Scheduling Your Renovations in the Right Order

The sequence in which tasks are executed during renovation is just as important as the tasks themselves. For instance, if you lay down new hardwood flooring only then decide on changing plumbing lines--you'd inevitably damage that spanking new floor! Demolition should typically precede everything else followed by structural carpentry work such as building walls or relocating doors/windows; then rough-in work involving plumbing/electrical/HVAC; insulation comes next before drywall; painting can follow thereafter since you wouldn't want paint splattering over finished fixtures/fittings. Henceforth an experienced contractor can prove incredibly valuable at this stage--not only can they advise on appropriate sequencing but also foresee potential obstacles which might derail schedules later on; another reason why planning extensively before plunging into renovations proves beneficial time after time.

Survival Tips & Tricks: 'Living Through It' Survival Guide for Home Dwellers

'Bubble of Sanity' -- Creating Livable Spaces Amidst Chaos

In the whirlwind of a home renovation, it's crucial to establish your own 'bubble of sanity'. This special zone is your retreat, an essential sanctuary from the chaos unfolding in other parts of your dwelling.

Here's how to create it: Firstly, choose an area that is least likely to be impacted by the renovations. This could be a bedroom, a study, or even the basement.

The key is to pick somewhere comfortable and practical. Once you've picked your spot, fortify it against intrusion from dust and noise.

Seal doorways with heavy plastic sheeting or thick curtains. Invest in some quality noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs to drown out the clamor of construction.

Fill your bubble with comforting items such as cozy blankets, favorite books, and snacks. Respect this space as if it's sacred ground.

Make sure everybody involved in the renovation understands that this space is off-limits for anything related to construction work. Implementing these measures will help ensure you have a livable space amidst chaos.

'Out of Sight, Out of Mind' -- Storing Your Belongings Safely Away

Renovations can be messy affairs and can wreak havoc on your household items. To keep them safe from damage or loss, adopting an 'out of sight, out of mind' approach can work wonders.

The first step involves sorting through all visible items in rooms due for renovation and deciding what needs immediate access versus what can be temporarily stored away. For instance - artwork on walls?

Pack them away carefully before any dust has a chance to settle! Your grandmother's antique vase?

Wrap securely and store it in a safe place! If storage within your home isn't feasible due to limited available space or major renovations taking place throughout the house simultaneously - consider renting an off-site storage facility temporarily or even using portable storage units that can sit on your property until needed again.

'Patience is a Virtue' -- Coping Mechanisms for Stressful Times

It's no secret that renovating while living in your house requires more than just physical endurance - mental resilience plays a significant role too! Acknowledging that there will indeed be stressful times ahead sets up realistic expectations; however coping mechanisms can help make this journey easier.

Mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing exercises can help manage stress levels during particularly intense periods. Taking walks outside daily offers fresh air and perspective which also aids in reducing stress levels especially during these trying times.

Another helpful strategy involves focusing on progress rather than perfection at every stage along the way; celebrating small victories like finally installing those kitchen cabinets after weeks waiting encourages positivity amidst seemingly endless chaos! Remember: patience truly becomes a virtue during home renovations while living amidst it all!

Hiring Professionals vs DIY: "To Hire or Not To Hire? That's the Question"

The Pros & Cons -- Understanding When to DIY and When to Call the Professionals

The exhilarating realm of do-it-yourself, or DIY, can be inordinately appealing for a variety of reasons. The sense of accomplishment derived from completing a project oneself can be extraordinarily satisfying, not to mention the financial savings that often accompany such endeavors. However, it is vitally important to understand your own capabilities and know when it's time to call in professional reinforcements.

There are tasks within the renovation process that lend themselves well to a diligent amateur. Painting walls, installing shelves, and replacing hardware fixtures are generally accessible tasks for most intrepid homeowners.

You will find that these types of projects allow you to add your personal creative touch while also positively impacting your budget. On the flip side though, certain jobs require more specialized knowledge and skills.

Electrical work or plumbing modifications have serious safety considerations and can result in significant damage if not performed correctly. In these cases, hiring a professional proves beneficial as they provide expertise and experience you may lack - ensuring your home remains safe and structurally sound.

The Money Talk - Comparing Costs Between Hiring Professionals and DIY

When it comes down to shelling out your hard-earned cash for renovations, there's always an inherent tension between cost-effectiveness and quality of work. It's essential to approach this with a clear understanding of what each route entails financially. DIY projects can save you money upfront since labor costs often constitute a sizeable portion of renovation expenses.

The cost of materials is usually significantly less than paying professionals for their time. Yet remember that time is also money -- so be prepared for some extra weekend projects!

However, despite initial appearances suggesting otherwise, hiring professionals doesn't always mean breaking the bank. Sometimes embarking on a DIY project without appropriate knowledge can lead to mistakes--mistakes that could prove more costly than preemptively hiring an expert who would have gotten it right the first time around.


No matter which route you choose--DIY or hiring professionals--the journey through home renovation is sure to be an adventure filled with learning experiences and rewards aplenty at every turn! Remember that preparation breeds success: get those blueprints ready; set robust budgets; plan meticulously; learn when it makes sense to don on those gloves yourself--and when it would serve better calling in pros! In any case rest assured--every nail hammered down brings you one step closer towards turning your house into a dream haven truly reflective of your personal style.

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