[Planning home decoration is so much more fun than planning a reno!]
Last spring, our family made some big changes and moved in with my father-in-law. He was living on his own in a mid-sized home and we were sort of squished into a 2-bedroom basement, so it made sense logistically. There were a few other reasons, including my FIL’s health that played a factor, but more space & separate rooms for the kids was a big motivator for us.
To make the house a better fit and a little more functional for everyone, we did a little renovating. The tiles in the entry room were updated, an old fireplace was removed from the living room and laminate floor was installed throughout the upper floor. The biggest change though was the addition of an extra TV/family room at the back of the house.
I had never taken part in a renovation before and had no idea what to expect, or how many safety considerations there are. It was tough, messy and long. The experience taught me a few things about renos. So, if you’ve been thinking about doing ‘a little work’ around your house, I’m sharing some of my top tips for the renovation process today.
Pack up any extra items.
Before any contractors come through the house and any renovations begin, pack up what you can. Renovations come with a lot of dust. I had no idea how dusty our bedrooms on the other side of the house would get from the back-room addition. Put away all your knick-knacks, extra kitchen appliances, comforters, sofa pillows – anything that is non-vital should be stored away.
Also, consider anything you can move that would be in the way of contractors and could be a potential hazard for tripping. Unplug any non-vital electronics, and clear the floors.
Test for asbestos.
Testing for asbestos before any construction takes place is always a good idea, and if you live in BC and are renovating a house built before 1990 (like ours), don’t skip this step. Thankfully, our contractor was on the ball and told us about this, and I’ve since learned that asbestos is a lot more dangerous than I thought.
Asbestos-related disease is the number one cause of workplace death in BC. Between 2006-2015, 584 workers died in BC with diseases related to asbestos exposure including lung disease, mesothelioma, asbestosis and cancer. 30% of asbestos-related deaths were in the construction industry.
Before opening any walls and possibly exposing your family or on-site workers to asbestos, call a professional. Get your home tested and have any asbestos removed to keep everyone safe. Only a qualified professional can remove it from your home. If you are planning a renovation, visit thinkasbestos.com to find out more about this danger hiding in plain sight before you start.
[Bead board used to seal up the wall where the fireplace used to be, because we didn’t plan our drywall schedule properly. Can you tell we were reno virgins?]
Think through any additional projects that could be done now
Renovations are expensive and it is natural to look for cost-effective ways to manage your project. However, you can’t renovate every day, so make sure you have considered all the things you’d like to do.
We replaced all the flooring in our kitchen, but in order to save money we didn’t replace the backsplash and counters like we originally planned. Unfortunately, a new kitchen floor really highlights how ‘dated’ my counters are. I wish we had just thought things through and had the counters and backsplash done while the contractors were here. It’s going to cost a lot more to have them back now.
Have a plan for entertaining your kids
A house full of tradespeople and a dusty kitchen can really throw a wrench in your weekly games night, and daily dinner plans. Make sure you have some quick and easy meals on hand and an eating out budget. This is also the time to plan extra time out, or extra visits to Nani’s or Dadi’s house. We spent many evenings squished into one bed watching YouTube on a phone when the electrical was being done!
If your kids are really young, it might be best to stay out of the house during renos if possible. There are so many tradespeople, tools, and tripping hazards during a reno, and toddlers don’t always understand the dangers.
Prepare for things to take longer than planned.
I have never heard one story about a reno that went exactly as planned. Just be mentally prepared for the very likely possibility that things will take longer than you expected.
I will say this in closing, the reno was hard to live through – but I’m glad we took the time to do it right, and make sure our family and the workers in our home were safe. And man I love my new floors, and it was totally worth it!