Our home had peeling laminated kitchen cupboards, a tile splash back depicting fruit and very unfashionable floor tiles when we moved in about 10 years ago. We’ve been dreaming and saving for this renovation since our kids were little, so we thought we were truly ready for the next phase. I’ve learnt a few things in the last few months, so I’ll share them for your benefit:
1. MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GETTING INTO
Planning your renovation is wonderful and the best part of the process! You dream about your beautiful new kitchen bench top and love browsing through magazines to find that perfect cabinet handle and splash back. Reality quickly sets in when a team of builders arrive at 7am every morning for 3 months straight and you, and your neighbours, can’t find a parking spot close to home. You’ll almost think about turning back the clock when your kitchen is set up in your garage and you fold and iron in the same room as washing dirty dishes and the dog. Although you’ll experience a number of emotions while going through the process, boredom will certainly not be one of them! A renovation isn’t a fun project to fill in the time or a form of entertainment, but more like you’ve taken on a second job…
2. PROTECT YOUR BELONGINGS
The less stuff you have in the house, the better the builders will be able to move around to do their job. Not only that, but drywall dust is more pervasive than sand in your bathers after swimming in the ocean. It will settle into places you never knew existed. Make sure you protect art pieces and your timber flooring. Cover your carpets with drop sheets. Seal off areas not undergoing any changes with plastic sheeting and pack up all loose items and put it in storage.
3. CREATE CHAOS FREE ZONES
While undergoing a renovation, your family will still expect clean clothes, clean plates, cutlery and probably a meal more nourishing than toast 3 times a day. Make sure you set up work stations for those everyday chores and a place for the family to relax and watch telly at the end of the day. We currently have a kitchen set up in our garage and my husband and I have become experts at cooking meals in the electrical frying pan. Although these meals end up a mixed mess on a plate, the chance of anyone dying of hunger or malnutrition is rather slim.
4. LEAVE THE HOUSE
Try to plan a short family holiday, just to get a break from the mess and noise. Accept all invitations for social get togethers and drop hints to get invited to friends that love cooking. Food that’s served in separate heaps on a plate, will count as a blessing and a side salad might be more special than a glass of wine (… or maybe not to that extreme).
5. BE AVAILABLE FOR THE BUILDERS
I bet you thought that, if you have a properly drafted plan and a report from an engineer, your job is done! Nope, it’s only starting… Your builder and team will need constant information and feedback from you. Even with a drawn up council approved plan, constant adjustments are made while on site, that can’t go ahead without your input. Make sure you’re prepared and know your building plan by heart. You might not need in depth knowledge of structural beams and support joists, but take note of the size of your skirting boards, the thickness and size of your floor tiles and the profile of your architraves and cornices. Make sure you know where all your bulkheads will go. You’ll need to know the position and height of your pendant lights and how you want to control all the lighting of the house. You’ve probably only dreamt of the colour of your timber floor, but have you thought about how the thickness will affect your existing doors, or if you want it laid vertically or horizontally? Have you considered the colour of the eaves and fascia of your new extension? Have you given thought to your new interior wall, ceiling and skirting colour? Make sure you have everything on file, so that information can be retrieved and conveyed instantly, without holding up the project.
6. STICK TO A SCHEDULE
Do as much planning as you can before your renovation begins. If you have your heart set on an Italian tap, designer pendants and handmade tiles, make sure you order well ahead of time. It would be a shame to turn a 2 month project into a 6 month project because of delay in delivery of one item.
7. LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR
We’re lucky to have wonderful neighbours in our cul de sac and would like to keep things amiable. Some have gone through a similar project or are due to start one themselves. They’re interested in our progress and curious about what it will look like when finished. Learn to apologise frequently – as you will need to 🙂 They’ll be more willing to forgive you once the value of their homes had once again increased, due to the removal of all skips and rubble from the front of your house. It’s not necessary to wait until your lawn and broken branches had grown back and your driveway repaired, before dropping them a box of chocolates to thank them for their patience.
Remember to take photos of your project as you progress. The best way to stay positive and excited about the end result is to see how far you’ve come!
Cheerio ’til next time!