How to Renovate a House While Living in it

During a renovation, your life is turned upside down by the noise, the dust, and the impossible task of keeping track of all your favorite shoes. Is it really possible to renovate a house while still living in it? Read on to decide for yourself!
Columbus Ohio kitchen renovation by CORE

Along with stars like Chip and Joanna Gaines and the Property brothers, the team at HGTV has made home renovations look glamorous and exciting. The transformations are real–going from outdated and inconvenient to exquisite and modern. However, anyone who has lived through the process of a renovation knows that the sacrifices to create a beautiful home can be maddening, and only TV magic can make a demo day look fun and effortless. During a renovation, your life is turned upside down by the noise, the dust, and the impossible task of keeping track of all your favorite shoes. No wonder the guests on HGTV shows stay elsewhere while the hard work is being completed! If you are thinking about an upcoming renovation, you might be wondering how to bring your fixer upper to life without having to fix your sanity afterward. Is it really possible to renovate a house while still living in it? Read on to decide for yourself!

In this article we will cover how to plan and execute a successful renovation:

Columbus Ohio bathroom renovation by CORE

Renovation Preparation

The Design & Planning Stage

  • Make a renovation wishlist – spend a few weeks making a note of everything you wish you could change about your space.
  • Prioritize – Assign a 1-10 rating on each item on the wishlist in terms of its importance to you. If you plan to stay in this home for a long time, prioritizing the spaces you use the most will give you the most positive emotional benefit. If you are planning to renovate to sell, choose the areas with the highest impact on the listing price.
  • Choose the right design-build teamSchedule a complimentary consultation with at least three design-build firms. By hiring a firm that handles both the design and building process under one roof, you know that the interior design team will help you imagine a plan that the contracting team can execute flawlessly. Both sides of the team will be working with prior knowledge and experience of the other’s skills, which streams the process and saves you time and money.
  • Understand the timeline – Small scale renovations can be completed in as little as 2-3 days, while whole house renovations or more complicated design plans may span 12 weeks or more. During the design and planning process, make sure you are asking questions about the timeline to completion, as well as the specific types of disruptions during each stage. Although many renovations can be completed while you are still living in your house, you will want to know in advance the days or weeks you will need to eat, shower, work, or maybe even sleep elsewhere.

How to Pack Your Home To Live In It During Renovation

  • Colored stickers – Buy packs of colored stickers and assign a color to each family member. At least one month before the renovation, keep these stickers in your pocket, and put a sticker on an item every time you use it. As the ground-breaking date for the renovation comes closer, you will have a clear visual of the things you use most frequently in your home. The more stickers on something, the more important the item to you!
  • Pack your stickered items – Use lightweight, easy-to-organize storage drawers with wheels, rather than suitcases, which are difficult to keep organized for an extended period of time. Visibility is key here, so go for transparent or translucent plastics, so you can see what’s inside.
  • Secure valuables – Undergoing a home renovation creates chaos and leaves your home literally exposed to elements beyond your control. Play it safe by securing jewelry, vital documents, expensive electronics, and anything else you would be heartbroken or otherwise burdened to lose. Look into a safety deposit box at the bank, or a home safe.
  • Pack everything else – At this stage, you might be tempted to tap into your inner Mari Kondo and evaluate all of your belongings for the ability to spark joy in your life; but resist the urge for now! Renovation timelines have a habit of creeping up on us; and it’s too easy for the packing process to stall while we evaluate the items to keep in our life. If you want to renovate your home while living in it, the focus should be on keeping your essential items handy and packing the rest for temporary storage. After your renovation is complete, the fresh space will provide you with a clearer vision about belongings that no longer belong, so save the tidying until after the renovation is complete.
  • Budget for a home organizing service – One of the most satisfying impacts of a renovation is the ability to see a vision for your ideal life without the day-to-day clutter. With that vision in hand, a home organizer can help you decide where your belongings best fit during the unpacking process. This may seem like a luxury, but building this investment into your renovation budget from the beginning will have a tenfold return when you have physical and emotional support to help you settle in after the renovation.
Columbus Ohio kitchen renovation by CORE

Expectations During the Remodel

Renovate while minimizing disruptions to your life

  • Which room should you renovate first? To minimize the possibility of duplicate labor, most contractors recommend renovating the kitchen and bathrooms before other rooms, not only because of their central role in daily life, but also because these rooms generally require the most extensive labor for demolitions and installation of utilities and appliances. Getting these renovations out of the way means you regain access to these core spaces sooner!
  • Emphasize structural integrity – As fun as the vision board might be for color schemes and new furniture, any trustworthy professional will prioritize repairs to structural issues before aesthetic improvements.
  • Framing and utilities – After any foundational issues are addressed, your contractor may need to demolish and re-frame walls according to the new floorplan. Before installing drywall, your contractor will install HVAC, plumbing, and electrical, which will create a seamless and finished look by hiding the utilities inside the walls. Of course, if you prefer the industrial chic vibe, you can work with your design-build team to leave pipes and ducts artfully exposed!
  • Moving from function to beauty – Once the walls are finished, it will be time to install floors, doors, cabinets, appliances, light and plumbing fixtures. This step is where you will really see your vision come to life, so if the emotional toll of living in your home while renovating it is starting to wear on you, see if you can get permission from your contractor to safely watch the installation of all the fun fixtures you picked out with your design team. Watching the subfloor get covered up by the glorious expanse of hardwood or tile is both satisfying and cathartic, because you know that all the health and safety improvements are officially behind you!
  • Cleanup and inspection – There are a million little items to track during a home renovation, so once all the dust and debris is removed, you will want to do a final walk-through with your contractor to create a punch list for finishing touches. Before starting, take a deep breath and set aside several hours. The finish line is in sight, but you don’t want to rush the final checklist simply for the sake of having your home back. You want to test every door handle, drawer, and light-switch, making sure everything works the way you want it to. That way, the finish line is a true finish, and not a false summit.
  • Celebrate! Take a cue from home renovation shows here, and plan a party to celebrate the completion of the project. It can be too easy to jump right back into daily living now that you aren’t sharing your home each day with contractors and carpenters, but taking the time to celebrate this massive undertaking will give you a sense of renewed sense of ownership in your home and your life. If the thought of planning one more thing stresses you out, skip the party, and just order a pizza!

Sanity-saving hacks while remodeling every room in the house

  • Kitchen renovations – Eating is a basic human need, but if your kitchen is being renovated, it may be difficult to meet this need at your own home. Two tried-and-true tactics for living in your home through your kitchen renovation are making a month of freezer meals to be microwaved and creating a camp kitchen in your garage. 
  • Bathroom renovations – Organization for your toiletries is essential during a bathroom renovation, so make sure each family member has a toiletry kit (or two) large enough to carry all of their essentials. If the bathroom under renovation has the only shower in your home, look for local gyms in the area that offer low/no sign-up or cancellation fees. It’s a bonus if they have a sauna or steam room to help you sweat out the stress of the renovation!
  • Garage renovations – At first glance, garage renovations might seem like the least stressful type of renovation to live through, but most people forget that the garage holds all the household tools, sports gear, and out-of-season clothes. Where does all this extra stuff get stored while the storage area is under construction? If you have space, you can move your things into an attic, space bedroom, or basement, but if you have room in your budget, you may want to consider an external storage unit to minimize the extra clutter in your home while living in it through the renovation. If you’re renovating during the winter, make sure you have a functional ice-scraper and snow brush to keep your windshields clear while having to park outside.
  • Bedroom renovations – Your bedroom is the sanctuary in the home where you rest and rejuvenate, so you will want to plan carefully to maximize this component of your self-care while renovations are underway. This would be a great time to plan a staycation and treat yourself to the experience of playing tourist in your hometown. If you can’t get the time away and are opting for an air mattress on the living room floor, treat yourself to smaller luxuries, like a new sleep mask or white-noise machine.
Basement renovation

Laws and Regulations for Home Renovations

Maybe less exciting but still important, regulations help to protect you and the contractors you hire. In Ohio, home constructions and renovations are managed by the Home Solicitation Sales Section of the Consumer Sales Practices Act:

  • Different cities and counties in Ohio have different licensing requirements for contractors. Even if licensing isn’t required in your area, a license can indicate an advanced level of professionalism from your contractor, and this extra effort may provide you extra peace of mind.
  • According to the Ohio Revised Code, a home contractor may not charge more than 10% of the total project quote for the down payment. Also, if the project is expected to cost more than $25,000, a written contract must be created and signed by all parties involved. This contract details the work to be completed, materials, timelines, and costs, to ensure transparency, agreement, and accountability for both homeowner and contractor. 
  • In a worst case scenario, the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act provides homeowners with a two year statute of limitations to file a claim related to residential construction or home improvement.

Had enough of the legal talk already? Hiring a reliable, full-service remodeling company will save you a headache and a hassle by doing the project correctly, in alignment with your vision and the law.

Central Ohio’s Renovation Experts

If you’re in the Columbus, Ohio area, please reach out to us here at CORE Renovation, and we’ll help you bring your home remodel vision to life.

Content Sponsored by Core Renovation

Central Ohio’s Renovation Experts

Matt Thomas