How to deal with renovation fatigue?
October 12, 2018 10:02 AM   Subscribe

We're in the middle of a home renovation that is dragging on...and on...and on. It's no one's fault, but it's been months and the end of the project is still nowhere in sight and I'm starting to have some trouble coping with my living space being a perennial construction zone. Any survival tips from those that have been there and done that?

We're maybe a half to two-thirds (hard to tell) of the way through a big home renovation, which is overall going pretty well with no unpleasant surprises (knock on wood), but due to various factors outside anyone's control, it's been dragging on since forever. We started in April and were originally quoted 10-12 weeks, but our contractors are still at it and the end date (even a general end date range) is still unknown. Our GC has been fantastic and unusually communicative for a contractor and so we know where our specific hangups are and exactly what he's doing to resolve them. My question is more along the lines of tips or mental hacks for how to deal when your living space has been upended and there's really not a whole lot you can do about any of it.

Specific challenges:
-- Our family of four (two adults, two small children) plus cat and dog are currently all inhabiting our small main floor; husband and I are sharing a tiny bedroom with our 11-month-old son and our coming into the bedroom after he's asleep often wakes him up (there is nowhere else for him or us to sleep at the moment)
-- Everyone is always tripping over each other, we're constantly snapping at the dog to GTFO of the way, and my 11-month-old is getting mobile as hell so we're constantly on edge trying to make sure we're not accidentally trodding on him
-- Husband and I have no easy or clean way to store stuff that used to inhabit our bedroom, like our clothing and our nightstands, so a lot of it ends up on the floor or living in laundry baskets and we just feel disorganized and scattered
-- Part of the wall of the room we're sleeping in has been torn open to connect some pipes to the upstairs, and one of our hangups is when we can get the sheetrock guys in here to close it up, so every day that it remains open, it rains more construction debris on my damn bed
-- Construction dust ON EVERYTHING, it doesn't matter how much I clean, the very next day it's back again AHHHHHHHHH

Happy endings? Specific survival strategies? Pithy reminders like "eyes on the prize"? I'll take anything at this point. Thank you!
posted by anderjen to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
This sounds incredibly hard. You already sound like you are handling this pretty well, and first, take a second to pat yourself on the back for reaching out for help before you get to the point where you are throwing your hands in the air in desperation.

On to the suggestions I have.

Is there any way, any way at all you can spend a night or three in a hotel? Do you have any friends who can host you for a night or three? Or one of you with one child? I know it feels like too much to ask, but the worst that folks can say is no. Ok, maybe they could say something mean. But I doubt they would.

Whether that is possible or not, here are a few other things.

1. Food delivery.
2. A big thick sheet to cover your bed to keep the dust off it. Not plastic because it's a suffocation hazard for your little one and now is not the time to discover that they've learned to get himself out of a sleeping place.
3. Cover the hole in the wall with another sheet. This will mitigate some of the dust. Not all, but some.
4. Roomba? Do you have one? Get one. Run it twice a day.
5. Air filters. HEPA.
6. Decadent and/or easy groceries. Maybe get a sodastream if you don't have one. Canned soup with sandwiches are fine.
7. Massage or yoga or something that truly deeply relaxes you.
8. Picnics or other inexpensive ways to spend time out of the house, especially before it gets cold and you're actually trapped indoors by the weather.
9. Disposable dishes. Offer to bring dinner over to a friends place in exchange for eating at their table.
10. Hire help for cleaning or other tasks.
posted by bilabial at 10:22 AM on October 12, 2018 [4 favorites]

With such a small space, a cleaning lady could come in every other week and leave your house SPOTLESS for about $75. I've done it before (found someone for $50!) and it was some of the best money I ever spent.
posted by bbqturtle at 10:27 AM on October 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you don't already use white noise in your room, that might do the trick with keeping your kiddo asleep when you and your husband come to bed. Also, turn the hall light off before opening the bedroom door. Stand there for a moment or two to get your eyes adjusted to the lack of light. That way, he's not bombarded with HALLWAY LIGHT as you open the door.
posted by cooker girl at 11:01 AM on October 12, 2018

Sheetrock takes like 1 day and is not expensive for a handyman to come do it (and not that difficult to do yourself if you are handy), so it may be worth the $300-400 to get someone to just fix the bedroom to stop the mess. They wouldn't even have to mud and tape.

Construction always takes way longer and is messy. I get why people prefer new over a fixer-upper. Also make sure the construction guys put up the plastic over large openings. It falls down occasionally. That will help cut down on dust.

Other than that, I have nothing to offer except commiseration.
posted by The_Vegetables at 11:19 AM on October 12, 2018

At the very least, tape a dropcloth/sheet/whatever over the hole in the wall. No reason you should have to look at that even if it won't keep out all the dust. (Nothing keeps out all the dust. I am also living this way now, I sympathize extremely.)

If you can find space for it somewhere, a garment rack (basically portable closet rod on optional wheels) helps a lot with remaining adequately clothed. They come at different price points, some are cheaper and some are prettier and more sturdy or have covers to keep dust off. You can take it apart when you're done with this ordeal, or find a use for it elsewhere.

Is there any stuff you've got that you're not going to want after this is over? Any furniture you plan to replace? Get rid of it now, it'll be less to trip over. I'm thinking of the big stuff (the little stuff is too much to deal with right now.)

If you can stack your larger furniture in some way and use some folding chairs, that can be useful for clearing more space for people to walk safely.

If there's any way to get just one room done sooner than the rest, that's one room you can move back into, or at least move some of your stuff into.

Mini-storage facilities often give you the first month free. If you have stuff you need to get out of your way for a while, that might be worth considering.

Good luck!
posted by asperity at 12:49 PM on October 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

Repeat often and as needed: "This is temporary and soon we're going to have a beautiful home and this will all be a distant memory." Because really it will. Mine is.

I would get a storage locker for all the stuff, your off season clothes, etc. to get it off the floor to give the kiddies more space. Have them pick just a few toys to play with and pack up the rest. This has the added bonus of when you unpack after the reno- new toys!
Pack up your knick-knacks and picture frames to lessen things you have to dust. Do that in general - the less there is, the less there is to clean. Clean your stuff off, pack it away, and when the reno is done put it all out again. Plus its easier to keep the empty surfaces clean without having to move all the stuff each time. The whole downstairs is going to need a good cleaning when the upstairs is finished anyway, so give in to that a little and try not to worry about passing a white glove test. Know that a big clean is coming and you'll get all the dust then. For now, swiffer, swiffer, swiffer!

And about your bed, please go out and get a plastic tarp and nail it/screw it up over the hole. When the reno is over, remove the nails and then spackle and paint those few holes. Much less trouble than what you're going through now. Good luck, hang in there - it's going to be soooo worth it!
posted by NoraCharles at 1:19 PM on October 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

"we're constantly snapping at the dog to GTFO of the way"

If you haven't already, set up a nice dog crate in a corner, and make it a super cozy den. Hide treats in there for the dog to find as a jackpot. Feed all their meals in there. Make it a happy place that the dog wants to be in all the time. It's not wasted space - you can stack other things on top, or use it as a table.
posted by dum spiro spero at 2:38 PM on October 12, 2018 [3 favorites]

I learned how to pee in a sink.
posted by bendy at 9:03 PM on October 12, 2018

I'm in a similar position, minus cat & dog, except we moved into a fixer-upper and started renovating immediately after moving. I still don't know where half of my stuff is. We took the kids out a lot (to the park, playground, activities, visits...) so we weren't cooped up at home all the time. We went a month without a kitchen by eating a lot of takeout and fast food and accepting *all* dinner invitations and offers of food. I'm sorry to say that I snapped after a month and fled to my parents' place with both kids and that's how I survived most of the construction work. Would it be an option for you, to stay somewhere else for a while?
posted by gakiko at 1:44 AM on October 13, 2018

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