One question that our clients always ask is whether they should stay at home and live through their house renovation, or temporarily move out. We want to answer ‘yes’ every time, but we understand that this is a crucial decision to make — and you need to consider a lot of factors other than your budget.
Factors to consider when deciding between moving out and staying in:
1. Scope of works
- How much work is going to be done?
- Are you going to do a major renovation or a surface renovation?
- Are you renovating the kitchen and bathroom — the two areas that you can’t live without for more than a few days?
- Is there going to be a demolition?
- Are you renovating a completely isolated part of the house (e.g. second floor)?
These are the questions that you must answer to assess whether you can live in or you should move out and make way for the builders.
Keep in mind that construction is disruptive in nature. It will cause inconveniences and interrupt your daily routine. It is also possible that you will interfere with the builders and slow things down.
Therefore, if you are:
- Conducting a major renovation (50% of the house)
- Doing a demolition
- Removing toxic materials (e.g. asbestos and mould growth)
- Removing and replacing the roof
- Doing a total kitchen and bathroom overhaul
You should consider moving out to make way for the crew who will work on your new home.
- What is your budget situation?
- Can you stretch your budget to afford rent or are you at risk of going over budget?
The budget is a major concern for many renovators, and both moving out and staying in will incur additional expenses.
If you plan to move out, you must prepare for the costs of short-term renting.
The good news is that the rental prices fell across most major capitals. According to GQ magazine, these are the average weekly rent prices, as of January 2021:
- Sydney $540
- Melbourne $430
- Brisbane $400
- Adelaide $395
- Canberra $575
- Darwin $480
- Hobart $450
- Perth $475
GQ magazine also said that this is the biggest drop in rent prices in the past 15 years.
Still, major renovations that last over six months might add thousands of dollars to your renovation cost due to rent.
To save money, you could stay in an Airbnb, or a cheaper hotel/motel, go on a budget vacation, or you could ask a friend or a relative if you can stay and live with them temporarily.
If you choose to stay amidst a major renovation, be prepared to order a lot of takeout meals and bottled drinking water. All these are going to add up to your expenses.
3. Access to water for your temporary kitchen and a bathroom
If you choose to live through the renovation, you might need to set-up a makeshift kitchen and a temporary dishwashing area.
Your alternative kitchen should be spacious enough for a small table, a few chairs, several pots and pans, a few dishes and eating utensils, your refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker, and a little counter space.
Cooking using your outdoor BBQ grill is also a nice idea.
In general, a makeshift kitchen almost works for most renovators, but it is going to be a huge adjustment for everyone with them.
Living through a renovation is also easier when you already have two bathrooms in the house, and one remains functional while the other is being renovated. Otherwise, you need to buy a portable toilet.
Access to water is crucial. If you’re staying, ask your builder about the times that they need to break off the water supply so you can create a bathroom schedule and store clean water for cooking and doing chores.
4. Level of tolerance and patience
- Can you deal with the noise coming from jackhammers, electric saws, welding machines, dump trucks, cement mixers, cement cutters,tamping machines, sledgehammers, and drills as early as 7 AM and as late as 8 PM?
- How about that fine drywall dust that gets everywhere despite sealing up some parts of the house?
- Can you deal with all the waste from the construction?
- Would you feel comfortable doing your daily routine with the builders and tradies walking around the house? Do you think they can do more when you’re not around?
Based on experience, a lot of renovators decided to move out in the middle of construction because they can’t bear with the noise, dirt, and lack of privacy. Not having to live through the mess and chaos is a lifesaver, especially during these stressful times.
5. Length of the house renovation
When the renovation takes over your home for weeks or months, moving out is the ideal option. The builders work faster with you out of the way, which results in quicker turnaround times and more money saved on labour costs.
6. Who are you living with?
Most couples with no children decide to live through the renovation process, but only when smaller-scale work needs to be done.
But, if you are doing major renovation work and you have small children, teenagers, pets, and are living with elderly members of your family, consider moving out. It would help if you got out of the way so the builders would be able to get more done quickly.
So, moving out or staying in?
Stress is simply a part of the course when renovating, and nearly everyone — regardless of whether they moved out or stayed put will experience this.
Deciding to live through the house renovation or to move out is a personal decision. You must do the pros and cons, depending on your situation. Assess the amount of work to be done and the time the builders need to finish construction. Once you figure out the scope of the project and the specifics of the construction and design, you’ll figure out where you will stay while the work is being done.
Whichever you choose, we prepared some tips to help you survive the house renovation:
Tips for homeowners living through the renovation
If you decide to stay and live through the renovation, your number one priority is to preserve your sanity. Here are some tips to help you:
Before the renovation:
- Declutter. It would be easier for you to live with the essentials before you start the renovation.
- Stay far away from the work area to ensure you’re not in the builders’ and tradespeople way.
- Tackle the dust debacle by placing all essentials in one room that you will not renovate, then seal off the area.
- Take all your fragile decor and store them far from the work area. If you are going to store them in boxes, don’t forget to stick on a fragile sign.
- Prepare a lot of tarpaulins and blankets. You are going to need a lot of them to cover important furniture pieces.
- Label every sealed storage so you know where to find the items you need. It is a hassle to move things around every time.
During the renovation:
- Maintain a constant communication and professional relationship with the builders and tradespeople. Talk to them and discuss the progress of the project before or after work hours to avoid getting in the way of their progress.
- Pay attention to the builders and tradespeople during meetings and huddles to make sure you understand the milestones that they’ve achieved.
- Try to avoid unnecessary chats — the type that goes on for hours.
- There will be times when you will feel like everything is slow and one task is taking so much time. When this happens, try to relax and discuss the issue with your builder during the scheduled meetings.
- If you have zero background in construction, do not be tempted to work alongside the builders and tradespeople. Let them deliver what is agreed in the quote. Also, you do not want to mess up, then pay extra to have it fixed.
- For better indoor air quality, turn off the HVAC (Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning) system.
- Always wear your shoes and slippers.
- Keep the kids and your pets away from the construction site.
Based on experience, it is possible to stay in your home and live through a renovation, but expect changes on your daily routine. You also need to be extra careful to avoid accidents on site.
If staying in is becoming too difficult for you, there is no shame in moving out.
Here are our tips:
Tips for homeowners temporarily moving out
- Make sure that you have the funds for it. Prepare yourself emotionally and financially for a possible extended staycation, in case your project gets delayed.
- Look for a decent rental property that is close to the construction site, school, and the workplace so travelling back and forth won’t be an issue.
- Try to visit the site once or twice a week, but only to discuss the progress with the builder.
- Never enter the construction site without notifying the builders, for security and safety reasons.
- If you’re going to live with a friend or a relative, try not to make them feel like you’re conquering their space. Shop for your own food and use your own toiletries.
It is still best to move out before the construction crew arrives. Less exposure to the dust and noises will make the house renovation experience better for you.