We spent Demo Week living with my parents, but I can now say we’ve survived almost two weeks without a kitchen or dining room. Two weeks of washing dishes in our basement utility sink. Two weeks of eating on paper plates with plastic utensils. Two weeks of just-OK crockpot meals. There are few things I enjoy more than ending a long day of work or parenting by cooking a lovely meal, glass of wine in hand, so this process has, well, tested me. But! Our project is progressing with impressive ease, so, truthfully, what more could I ask for? Here’s what we’ve learned so far:
- Kids remain largely unfazed. My husband and I spent weeks preparing our kids for this big transition, but they seem unfazed. They now eat their meals in our living room, on a hand-me-down table and (often) with their favorite show playing on the TV, so reno life ain’t so bad. Our beloved golden retriever, Finn, however, is a mess. He spends most of the day pestering the subcontractors to play with or pet him, and he insists on entering the job site each time the plastic wrap is unzipped, despite his large size and fear of nearly every loud noise. (And, if you’ve ever lived through a renovation, you know such noises are plentiful.)
- Old houses have old problems. Demo revealed some pesky issues — many of which required fixing, and, yes, change orders. (AKA, more money.) Asbestos covered the exterior of a heating duct, so we hired an expert to remove it. Galvanized water lines were worn and required replacement. A ceiling joist was not up to code and needed reinforcement. And then, reconnecting a heat run required additional framing support for the adjacent staircase. Sigh. Experts weren’t joking when they suggested adding an additional 10 percent onto your total project budget for such unexpected costs.
- Your marriage will be tested. My husband works in digital banking. I write for print magazines. Our brains could not be wired more differently. I see my vision: A creamy-white kitchen with marble countertops, sparkling-new appliances, and the dreamy porcelain pendants I had shipped from England. My husband sees numbers. His impeccably detailed spreadsheet — chronicling every cost, payment, change order, etc. — haunts me. But we’ve been working hard to better understand each other. To sit down together, after the kiddos are asleep, and review the spreadsheet, respond to emails from our contractor, and finalize design decisions.