Remodeling your home can definitely be an exhilarating undertaking. A new look, new space, new colors, new fixtures — it’s all very exciting!

It’s also all very disruptive.

When you are remodeling, whether you’re doing the work yourself or having professionals do it for you, your entire lifestyle is disrupted for days, weeks, even months at a time. It may not seem like that big of a deal before you start, but until you live through a remodeling, especially a major one, you have no idea just how stressful the entire process can be. So, before the first nail is driven, take some time to get yourself, your family, and your home prepared, and you’ll find it a little easier to cope.

With a remodeling of any size, there are two things you need to know up front so you can successfully plan around them — what will be disrupted, and how long will that disruption last?

If you are having a contractor do the work, they should be able to provide you with a detailed schedule that answers both these questions. (If they can’t, you have probably hired the wrong contractor!) Remember that schedules are only estimates, and a number of things can disrupt even the most carefully laid plans. Talk with your contractor to see what possible glitches they might foresee, and how you can create a contingency plan for them.

If you are doing the work yourself, you need to write up your own basic schedule, and then take the time to learn and understand what each step will entail. Think through each step and each process — if you’re unclear about anything, take the time to do some research on the Web, buy a book or a video, or talk with an expert. Once you have the time frames laid out, add at least 25 percent to them (more if you’re new to remodeling). Remember, you’re going to be doing this remodeling in addition to working, spending time with your family, and a dozen other real-life things, and you definitely won’t get things done as quickly as you think you will!


  • Electrical outages: Many remodeling projects involve the electricity being shut off, at least to part of the home. Understand what circuits will be off, what rooms they affect (they may feed rooms other than the one you’re working on), and what you need to do to get ready. You may want to move the refrigerator into another room, or plug the TV and the computer into another circuit. If rooms will be affected overnight, be sure you have flashlights available in key locations for safety and security. If necessary, install a battery-powered smoke detector, even if it’s only temporary.

  • Plumbing disruptions: Will water or sewer service be disrupted at any point? If you will be without any toilets in the home for more than a day, you can arrange for a portable outhouse to be placed in your yard (your neighbors will love it!). If you’ll be without bathing facilities, you might want to consider a sleepover at a friend’s, a few nights in a motel, or maybe even take your annual vacation during this time. 

  • Temporary kitchens: A kitchen remodel is one of the most disruptive, so well before the remodeling begins, take the time to box things up and set yourself up a temporary kitchen. Select a room that is well away from the remodeling — a spare bedroom typically works best — and set up a couple of large tables. Set up a microwave, move in the refrigerator, and consider a small hot plate. Do not use a camp stove or a barbecue indoors! Box up everything but the essentials and store them out of the way, keeping only a couple of pans, some cooking utensils, and some microwave-safe cookware handy in a couple of cardboard boxes stored under the tables. Store all but essential food items away as well — no gourmet cooking until this is over — and plan for simple meals. Set up a dish pan and a dish rack in the bathroom, and stock up on paper plates and cups and plastic forks and spoons to minimize washing.

  • Furniture: What to do with your furniture is something that is often overlooked until the last minute, but if you can make provisions for moving and protecting your furniture in advance of the work, you’ll help prevent damage and make the entire job go more smoothly. You might consider leaving the car out and storing things in the garage under plastic, or perhaps enlisting that spare bedroom again. For lengthy projects or ones that affect several rooms at once, you might consider having a temporary storage container delivered to your home. These containers are secure and weather-tight, and come in several sizes. You can also rent space at a secure mini-storage facility, or even have a mover move your contents out and place them into storage.

  • Weather and security protection: Will any of the roof have to be opened up? Will windows or doors have to be removed? Have plenty of tarps, plastic, and plywood on hand to take care of any issues that might leave your home vulnerable.

Remodeling and repair questions? E-mail Paul at

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