And when I say live through the remodel, I mean that literally. We added a master bedroom and bath and figured if we shifted ourselves around a bit, we could just stay home while adding on and save the added expense of renting a part-time shelter. How sweet and naïve. Too many mornings to count I’d barely be taking my first sip of coffee when our construction guys started filling the backyard. Men who at first were strangers and then friends, tromped through every room of my house and backyard for five months.
The experience became way more intimate than I ever could have imagined. All the guys who labored here saw me in my pajamas regularly (sorry Mom), overheard arguments, took out my trash, helped me bring in groceries, definitely heard me pee, and shared a beer. And in the middle of the crazy, they built us a chicken coop and taught us how to care for them. I screamed, cried, laughed, and generally walked through my days dazed and traumatized from the stress and debris that filled every crevice of our lives. And the nights the four of us crammed into one room to sleep with two dogs and the contents of three closets filling every empty space around us? Let’s just say, we had more tears than dreams. We still aren’t finished and won’t be for some time, but we are one final inspection away from having our house back to ourselves.
So, back to my list. I’m not sure I have 10 ways exactly to help keep you sane during a remodel. I don’t know why I even titled this post that. What I do know exactly is that living at a construction site sucks. No way around it. All four of us endured months of sometimes treacherous, discomfort and sleepless nights. A multitude of well meaning people tried to soothe my remodel melancholy with platitudes like, “it’s just like childbirth. Really painful then, Poof! You forget it hurt and are ready to do it again.” Maybe that’s true but A – I never went through “childbirth” having had two cesareans and B – No. I would never do it again. Ever.
So, if you’re going to live through your remodel regardless of how shitty intellectually you know it will be but for whatever your reasons, you’re going to do it any way (like we did) here is a break down of the “Must – Knows” …
- Whatever you think it will cost you – even at the very limit of that very last penny you think you’ll spend – double that.
- However long you think it’ll take? Don’t think about it. It’ll take however long it takes and no contractor or psychic can predict it.
- Choose a room that remains untouched, save for everyday, regular, clutter. You’ll need at least one space that you can take a breath in, run in circles and scream in, and sit down and take a minute.
- DO not pay your people until all the work is done. And I mean DONE as in that last nail is put away and that blotch of errant paint on the floor is cleaned up. Getting them to come back for the little stuff is HARD.
- Get involved. Make sure they ask you too many questions – where should the outlets go, what kind of molding do you want, how do you want the tile to look – let every detail be your victory or mistake. It’s more expensive and harder to change once it’s been done. But, that said – if you do decide to move things around – do it. Anything installed can be uninstalled and moved.
- Get organized from the get-go. Know where you’ll move your things and then organize accordingly. It’s a lot harder to find those jeans you want when they got shoved in a bag and you don’t know which bag they’re in or in which room they are hiding.
- Be adaptable. Make sure you know where your team plans to land every day so you can get situated accordingly and then prepare for that to change. I asked the day before and the day of where – in or out – of the house our guys would be so I knew where I napped my daughter or if I had to drop the dogs at my mom’s for the day. Don’t assume they’ll tell you.
- Keep every receipt. EVERY receipt. Things won’t fit, you’ll change your mind, that bookshelf you loved online didn’t work the way you envisioned, you’ll need more, you’ll need less, keep every receipt.
- Work hard to not fight with your love. Remember, everyone will be out of sorts and it will cost more than you thought and take longer than you hoped and the stress of these things will cause tension. You are all on the same team, working for the common goal of making your home more comfortable or beautiful or livable or whatever your reasons were before this nightmare started. You’re all in that shit storm together and you’ll weather the experience if you give each other a few extra hugs and kisses and take a breath.
- Remember that it’s all worth it.
I’m a little broken after this remodel and no drywall or nail can fix me. When I think of the last five months I get a twitch in my eye and neck that I assume will eventually fade. But, on the record – it was totally worth it.
(photos by Brooke, design by North Design LA)