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  • Writer's pictureHeather Holcombe

Should you live at home during a renovation? Six helpful things to know.

Living through a renovation can be challenging. The more extensive the renovation, the more significant the disruption. It can mean living without access to areas of your home, noise, dust, people coming in and out of your home, and other disruptions to daily life. For example, if you're renovating your kitchen, you'll lose access to cooking there for a while.

As an interior designer who's worked with clients through renovations, here are my tips for living through one.

1) Speak with your contractor before you begin renovating. Knowing what to expect for each construction phase can help you decide whether to live in your home during a renovation. Consider how much disruption you can live with. Discuss with your contractor what to expect throughout each renovation phase. For example, tearing out cabinets or walls can be far more disruptive and noisier than repainting an almost-finished reno. You might decide to live at home through the painting phase but not any demolition.

Your contractor needs to know whether you plan on living through the entire renovation or just part of it. In the case of an extensive renovation, it's usually best to move out for at least a while during the most disruptive part of the construction. Some people decide to live and work remotely from a second home or rent a long-term place elsewhere to escape the construction. Your contractor can help you work through these decisions and timing.

If you plan on working with an interior designer, bring them in as early as possible in the project - even before you start construction. They can provide valuable guidance on layouts and architectural details, and they understand the construction and remodeling process.

2) Ensure safety at all times. You should work with your contractor to ensure your family's safety if you live at home throughout the renovations. Home renovations can pose a safety risk for you and the construction crews, particularly if you're home through the project. Your contractor should set up safety measures to protect both residents and workers. Rooms and certain areas will be sealed off to regular and plastic sheets to seal off as much dust as possible. Proper ventilation should be ensured as well. If children stay home throughout the reno project, particular attention must be paid to safety. Construction projects can pose severe risks of injury.

3) Ask your contractor for a construction schedule. It's important to know what's happening during each step of the project. A project schedule or calendar will let you know the following:

  • When to expect crews in your home,

  • When to expect deliveries,

  • When there will be any potentially disruptive construction,

  • The potential completion date.

If you have particular deadlines in mind, discuss those with your contractor. You should define what you mean by "I want this done by the holidays." Does that mean the day before you slice the turkey or Halloween?

If you're working with an interior designer for the renovation, you should also know the design deadlines to help you stay on schedule. Good communication between you, the contractor, and the designer is critical.

4) Expect the unexpected. Some deadlines and schedules will likely change during the project. Vendor deliveries, subcontractors' plans, and unexpected delays can affect deadlines. You should anticipate delays due to inclement weather, holidays, scheduling challenges, etc. Your contractor should keep you abreast of delays. The more transparent and detailed a schedule is, the better informed you will be. Lastly, I always tell clients to expect the unexpected when renovating. Issues will come up, so it's essential to be flexible.

5) Living without a full kitchen. Kitchen remodels account for about a quarter or more of most renovations. Living without a kitchen for weeks (or months) can be challenging. How will you prepare meals during that time? Planning ahead is critical for an easier time. Think about installing a temporary fridge in your garage or elsewhere in your home, away from the construction. Will you be able to grill outdoors? How do you feel about cooking with a hot plate or microwave? I advise setting up a temporary mini-kitchen in your home, budgeting to eat out far more often than usual, and planning meals around easier-to-cook recipes.

6) Planning ahead is the key to success. Living (somewhat) comfortably through a renovation is possible with good advanced planning, flexibility, and a dose of humor. The more you understand what modifications or accommodations you and your family must make while living at home through a renovation, the better things will go.


Renovations can mean months of living mostly upstairs, cooking in your garage or backyard, or the entire family using one bathroom. If you like to be 100% comfortable at all times and don't do well with routine changes, consider moving out for at least part of your remodeling project. If you need any design guidance, please contact me. I'd be happy to help.


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