We are in our eighth week of renovating our kitchen and adding a rear extension to our house. We’ve hit the wall. It’s officially become a nightmare.
Whether it’s a bathroom, a loft or an extension, no renovation is easy to live through. Every project has its ups and downs. If anyone says differently, they are lying.
The most frustrating part for us has been…well, all of it so far. We’ve chosen to renovate at a crazy time in our life – a small toddler in tow and a new baby very soon. But we naively believed the builders back in October when they said the major works would be completed in time. Lesson #1 – add at least 4 weeks to any timeframe for major renovation. We should know better, we’ve been through this before after all.
Progress has been painstakingly slow. Communication has been non-existent. Dust is ingrained in every possible surface. So much so, we’ve now evacuated the ground floor. This is the reality of renovation.
It’s lovely to share the glossy photos of transformations – and yes I will do that if we ever get the project finished – but the journey to completion is by no means glamorous.
There are exciting days – when the kitchen units were removed and the exterior wall got knocked down. We felt the project was really moving forward. It’s thrilling when you can start seeing the real transformation and of course the end result will make the stress of it all worthwhile.
Here are a few of the ways we are surviving this renovation project…
Be prepared – we thought we were prepared for the sandstorm of dust about to hit but our ‘take each day as it comes’ attitude meant we really weren’t. We’ve now put everything in to storage boxes and moved them in to the spare bedroom. We’ve transferred all the essential kitchenware in to the utility room and only go in to the kitchen to prepare dinner before making a speedy exit. All the furniture left behind has been draped in industrial dust covers.
Be realistic – it’s hard not to get carried away with the excitement of a renovation. But it’s so important to be realistic about every aspect of the build – the length of time, the living conditions, sometimes even the quality of work. It’s not all going to be smooth sailing! Our previous builder cut corners towards the end of the renovation so this time we’re keeping a close eye on the work. We’ve had to reset our expectations and learn just to carry on with life as normally as possible.
Research the builder – we’ve dealt with a few different builders now and we’ve had varied experiences with them all. This time we chose to through a building construction company who subcontract the jobs out and manage the process for you. Or so we thought. Despite doing our research, we’ve since found quite a lot of negative feedback that mirrors our experience. If we’d been more thorough with our research, we might have gone with a different company. Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing?!
Speak up – there have been times we are unhappy and I’ve voiced my frustrations straight away. With our first renovation, it was all new to us and we let the builder get away with a few really poor quality jobs. Ralph hates confrontation and likes to leave any complaints to me. I, on the other hand, am happy to steamroll in if we have serious genuine concerns. Sometimes the only way we’ve achieved results is to spell out exactly what we’re unhappy with. It’s a balance between being diplomatic and firm.
Stick together – renovation is stressful at times and living in dusty, dirty conditions gets frustrating. Especially if there’s a toddler having a meltdown in the middle of it all. I’m definitely finding life surrounded by towers of boxes trying. It’s easy to take it out on each other. There have been some heated exchanges about tidying up and how horrendously disorganised the house is. But, we are a team at the end of the day. Arguing achieves nothing and makes us more frustrated so I’ve tried my best to bite my tongue and just get on with it.
Use family support – it has been so helpful to have my family nearby. With Ralph’s parents on the other side of the world, having my parents a five-minute drive away is a real blessing. I need to escape the construction site most days and knowing I can shelter there makes the whole experience less stressful. They’ve provided home-cooked dinners too – always a treat!
Focus on the end result – the days I want to scream because of the mess or the slow progress, I remember the reason we’re doing this. Thinking about the final transformation motivates us to get through it and keep a calm head. It will be a fantastic open living space when it’s finished and the whole family will enjoy it for years to come. My mantra ‘it will all be worth it’ plays on a loop too…