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Should I Stay or Should I Go: Where to Live During a Home Renovation

Updated: Feb 11, 2021

Renovating a house is a process that takes a lot of time and money, and if you’re renovating a home that you and your family live in, you could be looking at months of work that will interrupt your family life and privacy. Many homeowners choose to work in phases to minimize the interruptions to their home life, while others choose to rent an apartment or even pay for a long-term stay at a hotel. Here we’ve laid out a few pros and cons of each option to help you decide which works best for you.

Staying – Pros

Homeowners who decide to stay in their home during their renovation will save on the added expenses of temporary lodging. The added expense of a short-term rental or hotel can begin to eat into your overall renovation budget.

You also need to consider the possibility of a renovation running into problems that can extend the work time. Additionally, by being on premises during the renovation, your contractors have an easy method of reaching you if they need any sort of guidance during the process, and you can keep an eye on their daily progress.

Staying – Cons

Living through a renovation will disrupt your daily routine and can add stress to you and your family. Depending on the scope of the renovation, your entire family could be forced to share a single room for weeks or even months, and the dust, debris and fumes could cause health problems if not properly dealt with.

Renovations produce a lot of fine dust, some so fine that it’s invisible to the human eye and can get through the filter of a typical vacuum cleaner, and if the worksite cannot be isolated fully, this can cause potentially severe health issues.

If you have children, living through a renovation can be a very heavy decision, as it’s one thing to put yourself through those stresses, but it’s another thing to put your child through that situation where they can be exposed to harmful materials or hurt by loose building materials.

Kitchen renovations and bathroom renovations can cause additional disruptions to your routines. If you have multiple bathrooms to renovate, you can make sure only one of them are shut down at a time to ensure you still have a place to perform your daily routines, but if you only have one bathroom that will be tricky. Similarly, kitchen renovations mean you need to budget for the cost of takeout or eating out every day or consider making a makeshift kitchen with a microwave, coffee maker and other electronic devices until the renovation process is complete.

Vacating – Pros

Leaving your home while renovating can help to speed up construction as your contractors can work without having to worry about having you or your family present and without having to set aside time every day for significant to clean up. The work can also be done all at once rather than in stages designed around your limited living area. Additionally, you can remove the costs of equipment used to isolate the renovation from the rest of your home, as well as the costs of rushing electrical or plumbing work to make sure your home is habitable while the work is being completed.

By vacating your home, you can keep your family away from the harmful dust, disruptive noises, and other inconveniences inherent in occupying a home during renovations.

Vacating – Cons

Vacating your home is rarely a cheap proposition, especially considering that a renovation takes weeks or months to complete. Additionally, a gut renovation that is budgeted for 4 to 5 months that runs into serious complications can be extended to over a year, which could cause living expenses to double. Staying with friends or family can be a consideration for some, but that can put a strain in your relationship as your presence will inevitably cause disruptions in their normal life.

Vacating may also mean adding commute expenses to your budgets. Furthermore, without you there to ensure quality control, you can’t keep a close eye on the progress and ensure that corners aren’t being cut.

Our Advice

Deciding whether to stay or go during your home renovation will depend largely on the scope of the project, the layout of your home and your willingness to deal with disruptions in your daily routine.

There is no right answer to the debate between vacating and occupying your home during a renovation, however if you’re renovating a critical space like a kitchen or master bathroom, or performing what’s known as a ‘gut renovation’ that takes over a home for months, it would probably be in your best interests to vacate. If you’re renovating a small section of your home, or can afford to phase out the project into many different sections rather than one holistic renovation, you may find that occupying allows you to keep your finger on the pulse of the renovation and react quickly and decisively to any obstacles that may appear. The best time to decide whether you’re moving out or staying in is at the very beginning of the project, as that will guide the way you plan out your work schedule and budget.

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