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Stay Or Move During Renovations?

Stay Or Move During Renovations?

Several years ago we had an initial meeting with a young couple who were planning a second storey house addition and main floor renovation.  They asked if they could live in the basement of the house during the project.  Our answer was: “Absolutely not!” 

We were ultimately selected to design and build the house addition, and when the project was complete, they told us: “You were the only contractor would told us we couldn’t live in the house during the project.  We can’t imagine living through that.” 

Does that mean a homeowner has to move out for every major renovation or house addition project? The answer is no.  If you stay or go depends on how much of the house is being affected by the proposed house addition or renovation project.  In the case of the second storey house addition, nearly all of the house was affected.  The roof was removed, everything on the main floor was removed, and in the basement significant work to ductwork and plumbing affected most of the basement space.

All of the second storey house additions we have built have required work on all levels of the house, and living in the house would not be practical.  On the other hand, additions we have built at the side or back of the house have typically left enough of the existing house untouched that homeowners have been able to stay.  With kitchen renovations, homeowners have typically stayed in the house, and we have sometimes set up a temporary kitchen in the dining room.

Here are some of the items to consider when deciding to stay or move out.

Cost:  Moving out may involve cost of rent, cost of moving furniture, and storage unit costs.  These costs have to be factored into the overall project budget.  You may have access to free accommodation with family or friends, but how long are you willing to live with them, and they with you?

How Much of the House is Affected:  How many rooms in the house are being left untouched?  Don’t forget to include the basement, which typically houses the furnace, electrical panel, and where the water and sewer connections are typically made.

Mechanical Systems:  Are the furnace and hot water tank being disconnected?  How about electrical?  How long can you live without these critical systems?

Time of Year: Warmer weather presents additional living options, such as BBQing outdoors.

Parking Space/Bin Space/Material Storage:  On small properties, space is at a premium.  The contractor may need to place a disposal bin on the driveway, taking up your only parking space.  You may choose to stay, but you may have to find an alternate space to park your vehicle.

Personality:  How particular are you about dust, noise, and strangers in your house?  Are you able to co-exist with these conditions, or will it lead to frustration?

Health:  Do you have allergies to dust?  Or other health issues that may be impacted by construction? Construction generates dust, which will find its way throughout the house no matter how hard you try and separate the work area from the living area.

Children:  Do you have young children living in the house?  Do they nap during the day?  Are they curious and likely to walk into the construction zone?

Pets: What pets do you have, and how will they be affected by construction?   Homeowners that choose to stay in their home during construction will often find a place to take their pet during the day. 

Having To Go, Even If You Stay:  Some parts of the project may require you to move out for a day or two, even if you stay during the rest of construction.