Renovating your home is an exciting time. If you plan on staying in your home for years to come, a renovation can breathe new life into the layout and make it more functional for your family. Alternatively, if you plan to move relatively soon, the right renovation may dramatically increase the home’s value and help you cash in when it’s time to sell.
One question that commonly comes up in the planning process for a renovation is whether or not you can live at home while the work is completed. While every situation is different, this article will get into some of the key factors to keep in mind, so you can make a smart decision that is right for your family.
What Are the Benefits of Living at Home During Renovations?
All else being equal, most people would generally prefer to live at home during a renovation rather than being forced to move out. Some of the benefits of staying at home include the following –
Keep Costs Down
Without a doubt, the number one benefit of living at home during the renovation process is saving money. It would be quite expensive to relocate your family to a hotel or rental home until the renovations are complete – especially if it is a large project that is expected to take months. You could easily double the cost of your renovation simply by needing to move out while the work is ongoing.
The only exception to this would be in a case where you have free lodging available nearby that you can use on a short-term basis. In other words, if you have family that lives close and is willing to take you in, that could eliminate the cost factor and may make it more practical to move out of your home temporarily.
Save Time and Effort
Not only will it be expensive to live somewhere else while your home is renovated, but moving your day-to-day life is going to be time-consuming and frustrating. It might seem easy enough at first to pack up a couple of bags and move out for a while, but the reality is usually far more complicated.
More Control Over the Process
Even with the best contractor handling the project, you’ll still want to be able to oversee things and make sure the project is staying on track. If you are living elsewhere and busy keeping up with your day-to-day responsibilities, you might go long stretches without being able to stop by and see how it’s going.
Many projects fall behind simply because the homeowner (or business owner) isn’t around to keep the contractor accountable. Not only will this help with the timeline of the project, but it can also help you come away with a finished product that you love. For instance, if part of the renovation is designed to accommodate someone with a mobility disability, you can check on specific parts of the work that need to be just right.
When Is It Unsafe to Live at Home During Renovations?
As appealing as it is to be able to live at home while renovation work is ongoing, it’s not always the best choice. Sometimes, it will be unsafe to remain at home, and the best thing you can do is temporarily relocate yourself and your family while the work goes on.
Big Projects Underway
It might be that you simply need to get out of the house for a stretch while the major renovation work is going on and dangerous equipment or materials are being used. Fortunately, this shouldn’t span the entire project, as there might only be a couple of weeks within a two-month renovation that require the use of such heavy-duty gear.
One of the riskiest things you can do is to hire an unlicensed contractor to work on a project in your home when that project requires a state, county, or city-issued license. Without a license, you have no way of knowing whether or not the person you hire is permitted to do the job, and they also may not be as careful since they aren’t trying to keep their license in good standing.
When hiring a general contractor, electrician, plumber, or HVAC technician, don’t compromise on this point under any circumstances – you should demand to see an active license from any contractor you may select.
However, don’t expect every laborer or subcontractor to be able or required to produce a license. Not everyone has to in every state depending on their role in a project, or for very small projects. For example, in some states a professional handyman is not required to be licensed and they may be permitted to do certain types of renovation-related work. The problem is when someone offers to do work for you that requires a license, but they don’t have one. Verify independently and make sure that never happens.
Licensed or not, you will want to ensure that whoever you hire for your renovation project is properly insured in case something goes wrong.
Inadequate Safety Measures
There should always be safety measures in use to keep both your family and the workers safe from hazards while performing the renovation. Many potential threats exist, including injuries from falling objects, electrocution, hazardous fumes, dust, and more. Make sure a safety plan is in place from the start of that project, and then confirm that those protocols are being followed throughout the job so no one is harmed along the way.
What to Consider When Deciding to Stay at Home During Renovations
At some point, you’ll have to definitively decide whether you are going to stay or go during the renovation. As something of a middle ground, you could choose to move out for the phase of the project when heavy equipment will be used, moving back in during the later stages when the remaining work is just finishing touches.
Have the Right Insurance
If the right licensing and insurance is in place, you can feel better about staying at home than if no such factors were considered. These components don’t guarantee a safe environment, of course, but they are a big step in the right direction.
Remember, you don’t want to just trust that your contractor has a license and insurance that is sufficient for the job. It’s worth your time and effort to follow up on these points to confirm that everything is active and in good standing. Considering what you are investing into this project, and the trust you are putting in the contractor who will be coming into your home, doing a bit of additional legwork is certainly worthwhile. Hopefully, everything will check out and you can go ahead with the project with that added peace of mind.
Proper Safety Measures and Protocols
We mentioned this above, but you can’t consider staying in your home unless good safety measures have been established. Among other things, be sure that a plan to prevent fire risks has been clearly identified and shared with everyone involved. Fires are among the biggest safety risks during a renovation project, as it’s likely that at least some forms of heat will be used during the job – those could include space heaters to keep workers warm, or tools that get hot while in use.
Not only should everyone working on the project follow the safety measures, but all family members should know what to do in case of an emergency. This is particularly important if kids live in the home and will be around during the renovation. Everyone should know how to get out of the house quickly and safely, and should know how to call for emergency help right away.
In many cases – but not all cases – it is possible to live at home during a renovation project. Try to keep your personal preference out of consideration and just look at the facts of the renovation work that will be performed and how it will impact your home. By looking at everything objectively, you should be able to make a smart decision that is in the best interest of all involved.