Expert tips for surviving a renovation

A renovation can be one of the most stressful experiences you will ever go through – find out how to minimise the pain.

Taking on a renovation is going to change the dynamic in your home considerably. Whether it’s the early morning wake-up calls from the builder or losing your bathroom and having to find somewhere else to shower, it really does shake up your life. And truth be told, it can be a very stressful time for you and your family. The level of inconvenience depends on what part of the house you’re renovating, how big the job is and whether you’ve got kids and pets. Plus, if you’re renovating a ‘high-use’ area such as the kitchen, bathroom or laundry then you’ll also need to plan other ways to cook, bathe and wash. Prepare yourself for less sleep, less space and more mess!

Engage a professional builder or DIY? There can be a huge difference in where the exhaustion comes from depending on whether you’re doing the reno yourself or outsourcing the work. Either way, you can expect to be tired. Doing a DIY job has the advantage of allowing you to work around family members’ work and school schedules. However, taking the DIY approach could end up being a negative especially if the reno ends up taking longer to complete. If you’re hiring professionals, you’ll spare yourself some of the exhaustion, but be prepared for the disruption of having more cars parked in your driveway, more noise and more people in the house. This means more management responsibilities for you, but less physical labour. My advice is that you should only take on a DIY renovation if you have the skills to do it. The renovation shows on TV make it look awfully simple - that's for sure!

Preparation is key

> Plan your design thoroughly...finalise selections and details before the work begins. Successful renovations are always well planned ones. Engage a designer to help document these details with you if you're not confident to it yourself (nudge nudge wink wink).

> Allocate a decent amount of time to declutter the areas set for renovation. This is a great opportunity to throw away things you no longer use and put those things you won’t need during the reno into storage. Don’t be tempted to leave this to the last minute: there’s nothing worse than having to empty a room the day before your tradies start.

> Ask family, friends or neighbours if you can use their bathroom or kitchen while yours is being renovated. Better yet, ask if you can stay with them during the building works.

>Nowhere else to stay? Consider staying at a nearby hotel. It’s a great chance to take some time away with your family with access to all the facilities you need, such as a shower and laundry. Plus, it keep you close enough to home to oversee your renovation.

Keep the essentials at hand Sometimes when people prep for a reno, they put nearly everything into storage and forget about the things they’ll still need on a day-to-day basis. I suggest creating a compact station of all the essentials that you’ll need during the reno, such as clothes, wet-weather gear and sports gear. A clothes rack with drawers on wheels works well, as it won’t swallow up much room and you can simply roll it from room to room. And be sure to include a first-aid kit handy in your mobile stay for the inevitable cuts and bruises that happen during a reno.

Look after your health

>Having people working in your house for a decent length of time can really take a toll on your health – particularly if you lose access to important rooms, such as your bedroom and bathroom. Stay healthy by eating well, drinking plenty of water and leaving the reno site regularly to get fresh air.

>Safety first: Be sure to wear protective gear whenever you are moving through the reno site.

>Soothe any fraying nerves by enjoying a night off with friends or family every so often. If your bathroom or bedroom is being renovated, keep a couple of nice outfits handy and plan to shower at your friends’ place.

>Even the happiest marriage can be put under pressure during a reno. During stressful times, try to remember that you and your partner are a team and that you’re in this process together. Help each other out and be aware that any bad moods that flare up are mostly due to stress and lack of sleep. Make it through this and you’ll be even stronger as a couple.