Turning a Nightmare into a Future Dream Home: Living Through Your Home Improvement Project

“Forewarned is Forearmed,” we like to say.  We admit it.  A home improvement project like a kitchen remodel, family room addition or bathroom renovation is no picnic. A whole-house remodel is even more terrifying. But you can turn these legendary bad experiences into good ones if you realize and accept that there will be concessions, but you can be ready for them, if you prepare and keep in mind that the outcome will be worth it. Follow these tips to make the seemingly endless months of construction feel like just a few weeks:


  • Choose a custom remodeler you actually like and who knows how to communicate with you. Working together, you can keep track of schedules for both your family and the building team. This means you’ll have plenty of time to get ready for any extreme dust-making projects. With the assistance of your contractor, cover all furniture and work with the remodeler to seal off the room with plastic curtains) or to be away from the renovation site during that time.
  • At the outset of construction, set up regular meeting times and lines of communication with your custom builder, so that the looming deadline date of a product order or the change in color of your tile don’t become major obstacles that interfere with the schedule.
  • Look at each day’s accomplishments as steps toward the main goal: successful completion.  Some days are going to show more progress than others, but they are all working toward the finished product:  your dream remodel.

Kitchen:  If your kitchen will be out of commission, here are a few options you might want to consider ahead of time and use when necessary:

  • Ask your contractor to move your refrigerator and microwave out of the work area, for your convenience. This way, you don’t have to carefully pick your way around the construction to get to the refrigerator. 
  • Designate an alternate place to physically eat your food – the eat-in kitchen will probably be right in the middle of the construction zone, and the essence of dust particles in your soup isn’t very appetizing.
  • Make friends with your local take-out restaurant and corner deli. Grab a few menus and keep them handy throughout the renovation, and put their phone number on speed dial on your phone. 
  • Make simple foods ahead of time and freeze. Then, when you want a home-cooked meal, take one of your pre-made dishes out of the freezer and put it in the microwave and, voila!  You have a home-cooked meal in minutes. 
  • Start your healthy eating plan now by stocking up on items that can be eaten fresh and raw or blanched in the microwave – fruits, vegetables, light sauces, salads, etc.
  • Treat yourself and your family to a sit-down dinner in a local restaurant.

Bathroom:  Remodeling the bathroom and surviving it might be a little trickier than the kitchen, but it can be done. If you have an alternate bathroom to use, by all means, do.   If you don’t:

  • On rare occasions, the water may be shut off. Work with the contractor so you know the days and times and can plan accordingly.  The last thing you need is to be getting ready for a big meeting and no water comes out of the showerhead when you go to take a shower!
  • If you have a membership at a local gym or country club, consider using its shower facilities for a few days – showers, sinks and countertops are available, and often these establishments provide the amenities of hair dryers, lotions and shampoos.
  • Make arrangements to shower at a friend’s home once a week.

Family Room: Renovating the family room will be an infringement of the entertainment center of your home.  While it doesn’t seem like much trouble, you’d be surprised what happens when there isn’t a central gathering place with a TV and speakers. To keep your leisure time intact during a renovation, try these ideas:

  • Set up an entertainment area elsewhere in the home – whether it’s in an extra bedroom or in the basement. Have a few comfortable chairs and arrange for a cable TV or satellite connection prior to the start of your renovation.  Your efforts will be for naught if you get the entire family gathered in an alternate room and there is no connection.
  • Remove all electronics equipment from the construction area and cover any in adjoining areas, as these machines are very sensitive to dust, and so is the related software.

Most importantly, be flexible and keep your eye on the final outcome – a remodelled home, customized to your comforts.