Surviving a Remodel

Carol Venolia explains how best to survive a remodel.

| March/April 2006

Remodeling is demanding—often in the extreme. The stress of not having all your familiar spaces and the conveniences of home for several months can bring out the worst in you and your family. Add mounting financial pressures, and you have a potentially volatile mix. It can bring anger and frustration, intensify communication issues and test everyone’s reserves of creativity and patience.

Stay or go?

One of the primary decisions that affects your stress level is: Should you stay in your house or move out during the remodel? If you move into a rental, you’ll maximize financial stress while minimizing other stressors. If you move in with friends or relatives, it’s a matter of what kind of space they offer and how much pressure the cohabitation puts on those relationships.

A few hardy souls choose to stay in their houses during reconstruction, requiring maximal creativity. If you’re building an addition and not touching the existing house, a good dust-tight barrier and some noise-avoidance strategies will help get you through. If, however, you’re tearing out the kitchen and bathroom and altering other living spaces, you’ll have to set up temporary cooking and bathing facilities and carve out some sacred space for yourselves. In fact, there are those who would just say, “Don’t do it.”

Survivors’ tales

I interviewed several families who kept it together while remodeling, each of whom had a different solution to the “stay or go” question. My clients Robert and Joy Marcus, who stayed in their home while the kitchen was gutted and remodeled, installed a camping stove in the dining room—but mostly they ate in restaurants or ordered take-out food. “You just make the best of it,” Joy says, “because that’s what you have to do.” With Robert gone all day at work, Joy and the kids turned it into an adventure. “We played in the yard, we went out to play miniature golf, and we visited friends a lot during the day.”

7/2/2014 6:28:08 AM

I and my wife decided to move in our friend’s house when making the home remodel, we planned to demolish two interior walls and did not want our kids to inhale that dust. When the workers finished installing + we moved back in our home, our kids were very surprised to see their rooms were more spacious.

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