In my business, I help home owners work out the look, feel and overall design of their renovation rather than the physical implementation. Lucky me – for the most part, my clients manage their own renovations; including navigating the ins and outs of renovating with their children in the picture. If this is you too, I’ve come up with a list of things that should make the process easier.
Before you begin – planning and prep
To save as much time as possible, right from the outset, come up with a detailed plan of the renovation. Decide what you’re going to change, remove, alter and leave alone. Write down every single colour, product and finish you’re going to use – for the entire reno (this is going to be a looooong list – but it needs to be done).
If you’re renovating your entire house, work out which areas will be renovated and in what order. Decide where your living quarters will be while each room or section is renovated. You can minimise space needed by letting the kids sleep in the master bedroom in portacots or camp beds.
Next, put as much furniture in storage as possible, and pack up excess objects like photos, trinkets etc. Dust will get into everything, so cover items you must leave in the house with large drop cloths, blankets and plastic sheets.
You won’t want to eat takeaway every night, so cook and freeze as many meals as possible in advance. Avoid washing up by investing in disposable plates and cutlery. Set up a temporary mini-kitchen with a toaster, kettle, fridge, microwave and a camp oven. To ensure tradies don’t pull the fridge plug from the wall, tape the plug to the electrical outlet. Oh yes, I learnt the hard way!
Get the best tradie for the job. This is one time you want to put quality before cost. When asking for a quote, be explicit about what you expect of them. If you want them to clean up as they go, state that up front. If you want them to start after a certain time and not to smoke or swear on site, tell them before you engage their services.
Create a schedule of all the trades you will need. You want as little downtime as possible, so schedule one trade after another. If you don’t feel confident doing this, engage a project manager or builder, or hire a company like Hotspace to do it for you.
Catering for the kids
Buy some brand new games and DVDs. If your reno is mainly outdoors, buy indoor games and movies. If you’re doing up the inside of the house, invest in outdoor play equipment.
There will be times when you have a lot of building work taking place; when this happens arrange for the kids to be taken out for the day.
Ensure little ones come to no harm by having one area that is a no-go zone for kids. You can store appliances, chemicals and paint here. Seal it off with plastic sheeting velcro’d to the doorway and put up a kiddie gate as a reminder that it is off limits.
If you’re renovating your bathroom, you might need to get a bit creative with bathing. Small children can be bathed in a laundry tub or, if it’s summer, put them in swimmers and let them play under the garden hose. Alternatively, use a friend or family member’s house, or take them to the local pool where they usually have shower facilities. If you go to the gym, consider using the facilities there.
Staying sane during your reno
Reduce hazards and keep your space as clear as possible by putting a skip bin out the front. Throw all the old appliances and materials in there as you renovate.
Give yourself some downtime by taking a break between each stage of the reno. It will help you to stay fresh and retain energy levels.
Be mentally prepared for it to take longer than you had hoped. It is rare for a renovation to go completely to plan and there are bound to be delays along the way. If you keep this at the back of your mind, you can avoid getting frustrated.
Finally, take lots of before, during and after pics so you can share the memories with the kids!