When we first purchased the house in December 2018 I thought we were just giving it a lick of paint and a new kitchen/ Bathroom. I went into it with no expectations and full of ambition for what I thought would be an easy project. We were due to move out of our rented apartment in February and so I made my first mistake: I communicated this as an “end date” for all the works to our neighbours!! I can safely say that I will NEVER do this again as now I get asked why progress is so slow each time I see them.
February came and it was time to move into our renovation. We weren’t nearly ready. It was the middle of winter and we had pulled the roof off! Stephen told me over Whatsapp that this is what we were doing. He accompanied the news with a photo of a whole in the roof. But alas, we were in the house and up to our knees in dust! For me, this has been the biggest learning curve by a long way… keeping sane while living on a building site! And so I wanted to share with you the things I think have helped to keep us sane.
Learn to love your renovation
One of the most important things when moving into your renovation is to stay positive. I know that sounds cliché but it’s so easy to feel defeated and if you go into it feeling like you don’t want to be there, then it will never get better. Remember to take time to reflect, look at how far you’ve come by scrolling through old photos and don’t lose sight of why you’re doing your renovation.
Another way to love your renovation is by laughing at the quirks. I’ll always remember the time I got out of the bath one freezing January and was able to look right up, through the joists, to the stars. I hated it then but I’ll remember it forever.
Have a living area
For us, getting as close to a bedroom as possible was our main priority before moving in. If we were going to live in a building site, part of it had to be nice enough for us to be able to unwind in. This meant we had white washed walls, a cabinet to keep our clothes free of dust and a TV to keep us sane.
Prioritise ease of living
Although it’s lovely to have a living room finished or a pretty bathroom, it’s more important to make living in your renovation as easy as possible. This might mean jumping from one room to the next instead of finishing a particular area, but it will mean you’re focusing on things which will be better in the longer term. We installed our larder before we had planning permission for our extension so that we had somewhere to store the food. We also put the fridge in the living room and a washing machine temporarily under the stairs.
And last but by no means least, try and keep dust away from your living spaces. It’s not only a pain to keep cleaning (and no amount of hours in the week will allow you enough time to keep on top of it), but it can also be harmful to breathe in. Take a look at our Reducing The Dust article for our top tips.
Other things to consider
Especially important if your renovation is also your day job! Go for walks, out for dinner or plan a night away. Anything to get fresh air and a change of scene.
Space will become very valuable once you start bringing in materials and tools. Buying a kitchen before you have a room to put it in is going to lose you a lot of space. This is the biggest lesson I learnt as I also found out that I had lost my returns period when I finally unboxed the bathroom and the toilet was faulty.
Don’t feel guilty because you want a night off. Being in your renovation doesn’t mean you have to work on it all day every day!
Make sure your label any boxes up with what’s in them. You will find yourself searching through boxes on a very regular basis.
The simplest tasks like sweeping up become a challenge when you’re trying to keep dust to a minimum. Consider spraying the dust with water before sweeping it to weigh it down and stop it from carrying through the air and into your living spaces.
When you’re living in your renovation (or at least at the start) you will be tempted to work until midnight. Not only do you not want to burn yourself out but your neighbors won’t appreciate the noise either! Try to clock off at a reasonable time!
Reducing the dust
Probably one of the most important tasks when living in a Renovation. We've collected our top tips.