how to survive renovations on your home

Ten Ways To Stay Sane When You’re Having Your Home Renovated

July 2017 for us was all about renovations, indoor and outdoor.

I’m so grateful we are able to do all the jobs, and actually own our own home. But I’m also happy to have my house back!

I’m sharing here my top tips for staying sane when you are have building work done, or other types of renovations on your home.

1- Get more supplies than you think you’ll need. So all of the following come in very handy;

  • Tea bags
  • Instant coffee
  • Milk
  • Sugar
  • Toilet roll
  • Cordial (and ice cubes in the freezer if it’s really hot)

2- Use things for the workers that you don’t mind too much about getting messy. So things like;

  • Old towels in the bathroom
  • Mugs and cups past their best

3- Get a big bottle of gin. Not for the workers, but for you! Or something similar to help you switch off from the frazzled feeling you get when there’s so much going on. I’m not talking about excessive drinking here, but literally for medicinal purposes; a gin and tonic can work wonders

how to survive renovations on your home
Our recent garden work and old wallpaper behind a radiator we had moved

4- If there is a lot of work to do, try to schedule it all for around the same time. We did all our recent renovations in July so then we’d know we could relax for the whole of August. Scheduling it for the same time seems daunting, but it gets everything over quicker rather than dragging it out.

5- If you’ve any access issues do sort this out before the work starts. Either by persuading neighbours to allow you through, or figuring out something else. It’s not something to leave until the last-minute. If there is no alternative but to go through your home then protect your floors with something. This is pretty basic but is better than nothing. Protect what you are keeping!

6- Relinquish some control. At the end of the day, you’ve hired people because it’s something you can’t do yourself, right? Or it’s perhaps too big a job for one person. So, trust that you’ve chosen the right people to do the job that you are paying them to do, and let go a little. Easier said than done I know. But the tradespeople will have done so many similar jobs to the one they are doing for you, just let them get on with it.

pipe work in bathroom
Crazy old pipework during our bathroom renovation

7- Some people like to be away from home when they are having work done. I’m the opposite. I think if you can be there as much as possible you can respond so much quicker to curveballs and questions about the job. Builders aren’t mind readers; communication is key.

8- Keep your mind on the prize. The long-term benefits of doing the work, all the times you’ll be able to enjoy that bathroom, of happy times in the new garden or cooking in that new kitchen. In short, it’ll all be worth it.

9- Do expect to be overwhelmed. There are so many big, and small decisions to be made. It helps to create a list of priorities. It also helps just chatting to a good listener about how you are feeling, just getting out of the house with an old friend can really help your brain relax properly.

10- Things may look worse than they ever were before you started. But that’s just the nature of renovation, you have to break things so you can build them up to be better than they were before.

I’d love to hear your renovation stories. What kind of work have you had done?

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33 Comments

  1. MissPond

    Wow what a hectic July! We mainly did all our renovations ourselves when we had our house in mcr, took months and I think it worked out just as expensive (time and money etc). Next time we will definitely be getting the experts in!

  2. Jen Stanbrook

    This is so spot on Susie, and exactly what I learned when the attic was being renovated. Being present to answer queries immediately saves a lot of time.

  3. Cate St Hill

    I’ve had some nightmare builders and workers in before – I love the bottle of gin tip!! I definitely needed one last week, I had two separate handymen come to try and do a job, one didn’t have a drill or spirit level, the next one who came didn’t have a drill bit for his drill, literally banging my head against the wall! Your really do need to watch over them xxx

  4. kate

    I’ve never had home renovations like this before, but these are all great tips Sus. Also: “Iā€™m not talking about excessive drinking here, but literally for medicinal purposes; a gin and tonic can work wonders” – NEW LIFE MANTRA šŸ˜‰

  5. lazy daisy jones

    haha this sounds so familiar! good luck darl, been there seen it done it, including ripping out old plumbing and putting in new heating, so sorth it in the end though, bit like child birth?
    bestest ash xxx

  6. Pippa Jameson

    This is a great post and I feel your pain, we are going through exactly the same process as our builders arrived 1 week ago! I think it’s really important to get these tips out there as so many people I know are completely overwhelmed and unprepared for the stress and upheaval. I have a similar post going out soon but it’s looking more at the planning and financial aspect. Good luck with the rest of the build xx

  7. Sarah | The Urban Wanderer

    Great tips! I was wondering how you were getting on and now I know you sailed through with a gin in your hand. (in the evening of course) We had 15 foot hedges removed and fences put around like you did and the mess is terrible. Definitely looks worse than it is though and the result was worth it. I’m quite lucky that I’m trained in multi-skill construction so do most of the work myself ad am careful with our normal mugs. When I do get people in though, I have to write a list of things needed, like dairy milk. Most of my past workmen weren’t fans of soya!

    Here’s to a relaxed August where you can do the fun bits of planting up and decorating.

  8. Carole King

    Some great tips here. It would never occur to me to get different trades in at the same time but now you’ve said it, it makes so much sense. I like the gin tip too šŸ™‚

  9. Kimberly Duran

    Oh I couldn’t agree more with your list! Although we’ve done 95% of the work ourselves, there’s always so much mess and upheaval. I would also add to allow for contingencies on your budget just in case something unexpected is flagged up – and that it always takes more money and more time than you think it will šŸ˜‰ xx

  10. Bobbi

    Great tips! This post reminds me of the whole house renovation my husband and I did 10 years ago. What a nightmare! We did all the work ourselves (mostly the hubby) and we had a newborn baby on top of it all. That would be my tip. Don’t do a whole house renovation yourself with a newborn baby.

  11. sarahaelsley

    That’s funny, I did a very similar post recently for Sarah at Life in a Breakdown! https://www.lifeinabreakdown.com/mentally-survive-house-renovation/

    Definitely agree about the tea bags and mugs, and gin, hah! Wine was my choice.

    Our renovations took us six months, but we did all the work ourselves. My partner fitted our second hand kitchen all by himself, which I think is incredible considering he’d never done it before. Everything is brand new, even down to the light switches and door handles. We’ve got new kitchen and bathroom, new flooring throughout downstairs and the landing. Obviously we had to get people in to do the plastering and electrics and plumbing, but we did everything else.

    Best experience ever! Keeping your eye on the finished result is my favourite piece of advice. Especially when you’re stressed because you’ve found an expensive problem, that may set you back three-four weeks and will cost Ā£1000 to fix. It all works out in the end.

  12. Abby

    Some very useful tips here thankyou!
    When we had our home renovated I had totally unrealistic expectations … I expected a whole house renovation to be done in 9 days and couldn’t cope when we ended up living in a building site with a 2 month old baby for more like 8 weeks! So I would definitely add be realistic about time frames and even accommodate the likelihood that t may take longer than expected!
    Just put our house on the market so will be going through it all again soon… wish me luck!! Xx

  13. sarahaelsley

    Hi Susie, I renovated the entire downstairs of our house, as well as the landing and bathroom, all at the same time! We planned to do room by room but of course nothing works out as simply as it should.

    My blog logs everything from getting the keys, to disasters, to finished product: https://www.dreamofhome.co.uk/category/renovation-journey/house-renovation/

    I definitely agree about supplies such as tea, and wine is my gin! Excellent tips, particularly about giving builder/workmen items that you don’t mind getting ruined/dusty/broken/all of the above.

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