6 lessons I learned from renovating my house
1 - Watch the movie 'The Money Pit' - it sets realistic expectations.
If it can go wrong, it will.
There is no amount of plans, lists, spreadsheets or goodwill that will prevent complications and unforeseen disasters.
When you watch that movie, you might think that I took my lessons directly from there - it's the other way around: no matter how much you think the movie exaggerates, it's actually pretty realistic (which is why, I'll overuse gifs from that movie in this post).
Let me give you some examples of our personal disasters:
Example 1: in an effort to level the ground floor (after the disastrous job done by the builders), we are measuring all the dips and mounds to determine where we need to pour more or less levelling compound.
To highlight the correct level, we are screwing nails into the floor (the top of the nail is the level we need to reach).
We're placing the very last nail - and what do you think happens? Obviously, we drill through one of the radiator pipes. Water sprays everywhere, it hits the ceiling, and it spreads out all over the living room.
We had to dig up the concrete around the pipe, call a plumber to replace 50 cm of pipe (€80!), and then, completely drenched, we had to mix up some levelling compound to cover up the hole.
Example 2: We are laying down the laminate floor (which rests on a layer of plastic and an insulating layer of foam), and we decide to take off the radiators so that we can place the entire floor board underneath it, with holes drilled through for the pipes.
Everything's set - we even used new joints for the radiators - and then what happens? One of the joints leaks and it floods half of the new flooring - soaking the insulating foam.
We had to take everything off, fix the radiator and replace the foam (we also forgot to put back the floorboard with the holes for the pipes, before fixing the radiator - so it was all for nothing).
2 - This is not a hobby or a side project, it's a JOB.
You'll start enthusiastic, imagining yourself and your partner as the happy people in
That. is. a. lie.
At some point, in the following 6 months to a year, you'll start to hate it: this is not a hobby, it's a second life - it takes every bit of your free time and head space.
One day, you'll walk into what used to be the living room, look around, see the tower of plasterboards that is reaching the ceiling (which you tore down - so you only see the support beams), try to make your way around boxes of laminate floor, power tools and bags of skim coat -- and feel the urge to cry or laugh manically.
There is a reason why some people do this as a full-time job - and the chances that you'll still be enthusiastic while living on a construction site are very slim.
Don't get me wrong - it is also very rewarding and, if you keep a positive attitude throughout, it *can* be fun. However, I want to be sure you don't go into this with rose colored glasses.
3 - Stress, noise, and dust will magnify all your worst qualities.
How the surveyed couples found the experience:
At some point or another, you will be short-tempered and bone deep tired.
If you are going into this with a partner, it will be a test of your relationship - rest assured that there will be arguing. Also, whatever problems you might have had in the beginning, the stress of organizing and implementing such a huge project will multiply them tenfold.
Everyone has a unique way of working and personal preferences in style and design.
For one, I really like making lists and laying out plans, while my boyfriend starts 3 projects simultaneously, with no real game plan.
Try to find the humor in things - especially when "disasters" happen - just think of what a great story it'll be!
Also, how stupid are your arguments really? Are you fighting because you are tired and frustrated? Is it because you prefer a different approach or clearer instructions from your partner? Talk it out at the first fight!
4 - The amount of work needed for each job is exponentially more than you expect
You don't really know how much work there is until you live in the house, especially an
In addition to that, each one of the jobs needed, will take at least double what you planned.
It's not just the renovation jobs either: every little detail of your daily routine will be affected by them. Where will you wash your clothes, your dishes
5 - One of you needs to know what they are doing
In the end..
Not to mention that he's the one with practical knowledge on how to do..
I'm not saying that if you've never done this, there's no way you'll pull it off. However, the learning curve is pretty steep: in addition to all your research - and Youtube videos - ask a friend (who knows what they are doing) to show you the ropes. You can also ask professional advice and how best to proceed and which products to use.
6 - The words "While we're at it, we might as well ... " are not your friends.
Those words will not only lead you to work until 10 p.m. (
More times than not, the trick to managing a renovation project is knowing when to say when. It's really easy to just start one more job than you had planned, especially when you still have ten thousands things to finish and most of the jobs you want to do depend on you completing something else first.
Take it in stages and keep a careful eye on your budget - at one point, all I had in my bank account and in my wallet amounted to 4€ - I was going to get paid in 2 days' time, but it still was a very unpleasant 2 days.