Remodelling a house isn’t quite like the average DIY project. Most DIY is finished within a few days – even the nightmare job of sanding floors doesn’t take that long, all told (it just feels like it does). However, an entire remodel can, and usually does, take months, turning your home and garden into a building site. Of course, you’re right at the rough end of it – sleeping in one room, having to go to the gym for a shower – but you also need to consider the people around you (especially if you want to use their kettle…).
It can be done with the minimum of stress and worry, though, especially if you plan ahead and have lots of contingencies.
Tell the neighbours well ahead of time
At least a month before the work is due to start, let everyone on the street know it’s going to happen. You can tell people in person, as well as drop flyers or letters through their doors.
You should let people know what the start and projected end-date of the work is, as well as where the construction team will be parking and how many hours and days a week they’ll be on your property. If there will be any parking restrictions due to your work, you should think about having a custom metal sign made for you. A metal sign is durable and is more likely to be taken seriously than a scrawled note on an A3 sheet of paper.
Think about leaving
In the best possible way, of course… If you’re gutting the place, then you’ll have to decamp to a nearby rental or hotel for at least a month. If it’s a smaller job – maybe you’re extending your kitchen and one downstairs room – then you can stay in the house, but you’ll need to create a temporary kitchen, as well as no-go zones for kids and pets.
Make sure any features you want to keep are well-protected
If you want to keep an original parquet floor, for example, then it should be well-sealed and covered over with plastic sheeting while the walls are plastered. Any original features like doorknobs, fireplaces and so on that you want to put back after the work is done should be either taken off-site or well-labelled and protected in-situ.
Build relationships with your team
Gather together your architect and designer early on and make sure you get along with them. You’ll be working with them for several months, so if you’re not comfortable with them, or you feel you have to micromanage them, that’s going to get tense. Make sure you’re available for meetings and site visits – you might feel like jetting off to the Caymans for six months, but that’s not going to go down well at all.
Have a schedule and stick to it
By planning as much as possible in advance and sticking to any decisions you make, you can stay roughly on schedule. If something you’ve ordered, like a particular stone flooring, isn’t available for months, then you’ll have to accept your second choice. Any international orders could be delayed, so make them early on in the project to account for any hold-ups.
Create a contingency budget
Around 10% of your project budget should do, and keep this money safe – don’t spend it on anything but emergencies. If you’re lucky and no emergencies arise during the work, then you’ll have a slush fund for some fancy furniture or a well-deserved holiday.