I’ve renovated my house 4 times and we’re on the verge of a 5th and final bit of construction. What I’ve learned is staying in the house during construction might save you money, but it will cost you your sanity. Add kids to the mix and the best thing to do is to move out during a home renovation.
Dust gets everywhere.
We didn’t move out when we were renovating our unfinished basement and discovered dust gets everywhere. Everywhere! We figured it was the basement, the first floor would be a little bit of a wreck with workmen tromping through, but we could limit ourselves to the top 2nd floor. We thought the plastic sheets and the dust mitigation would do the trick. It kept most of the dust out, but not all.
Fine particles from our circa 1875 home floated up and up. Up through the 1st floor floorboards. The flow of workmen going in and out also brought the dust to the upper floors. On the 1st floor kitchen, the dust made its way into the closed cabinets. I recall talking to some neighbors whose next door (we’re all in townhomes) neighbors were heavily into DIY construction and dust came through the party walls. Dust will find a way.
There is something to consider when there are little ones—especially with older homes— and that’s lead. Our son wasn’t around for the previous renovation projects, but with this new one, we’re relocating. He’s a bit past the putting everything in his mouth stage, but if it looks like candy, he’ll check it out. The next construction project shouldn’t kick up a lot of old dust, just new dust, but still.
Figure out where to go.
The cheapest option when temporarily leaving home is bunking with friends. Friends with lots of space for a family. This is where it helps to have a variety of friends of various ages. Retirees, who live in large homes, could be such friends. We know a couple of retirees who will be hosting a family in their basement in-law apartment, while their addition is being built. When our adopted son was first placed with us, we had to remain in Maryland for an unknown amount of time until we got permission to return to DC. We stayed with my retired aunt and uncle in their 4,000-5,000 square foot McMansion.
For our approaching home renovation, we put a call out to on our neighborhood email list to see if anyone had or knew of anything we could rent on a month to month basis. We have wonderful neighbors and received two offers for renting out their homes.
If that wasn’t an option, we’d planned to find an Airbnb in the neighborhood. During the last renovation, when we put on an addition, we rented a friend’s Airbnb. I would never recommend going around Airbnb, but when looking around and noticing the host’s photo, I realized we knew each other in real life and we worked out a deal.
Finding the right temporary rental with kids can be tricky. Photos may not show if there is a tub for bathing (our son is deathly afraid of showers) or if there are furniture and layouts that are fine for several adults but hazards for little ones. Beds may be too high for toddlers and small children, but this might be remedied with some bed bumpers. Locations tend not to be precise and in DC, the character of a place sometimes depends on which block it is on.
We’re choosing to stay in the neighborhood because, despite the pandemic, we’re in a pretty cool neighborhood. We will eventually move out to Maryland, as the construction is to ready our home for sale (fixing things we’ve left undone). We’ll have the opportunity to test drive other communities.
Moving out is best for everyone.
Moving out helps the contractors and the workmen because they didn’t have to work around us. They could come in around 7 AM and leave whenever. They could come and go as needed. For us, moving out meant not having to deal with dust, trip over tools or other things, and not live among plastic sheeting. We won’t have to worry about our son getting a hold of a lost screw or something else.
Thinking of doing a home renovation? Consider the disruption of having workmen coming in and out and the possible difficulty of keeping socially distant. Also consider it an opportunity to try on a different house. It’s another way to explore the diversity of the DC area.