You have nailed down your final design and taken steps to prepare for the arrival of contractors, but how do you cope when the work actually begins? Here is a rundown of what to expect and how to deal with it.
You will have strangers coming and going from your house for a month or two.
Unless you are willing to hand over the key to your house and head out on vacation (not recommended), you will have to answer the door to welcome workers every day, Monday through Friday. Although it was inconvenient, we made the decision to have one of us present in the house at all times when workers were here, roughly 9 am until 5 pm. This is not so much because we feared theft, goofing off, or any other bad behavior, but because we wanted to be readily available if issues came up. And we liked having control of our key too.
HOT TIP: Issues come up a lot in any construction project! And if you are particular about things, they come up often! Be prepared to interact with the contractors.
Issues that come up include cabinets that will not fit because measurements were wrong, floors that are not level, precise placement of light fixtures and island, and many, many more.
BOTTOM LINE: If you must leave the workers on their own in your house, make sure they have your cell phone number and will use it to consult if “something comes up.”
You will be living with noise and dust throughout the project.
One source of noise we had not anticipated was the worker’s radio blasting out Rush Limbaugh! (We chose to ignore it.) As for construction noise, it was not as continuous as you might think. There are noisy periods, such as during “demolition,” but many days the noise was minimal and very sporadic. Amazingly, our cats (who were upstairs) grew blasé about the noise and looked downright relaxed even when sawing, hammering, etc. was going on in the kitchen!
During the dusty periods, our contractor put plastic sheeting over the doorways from the kitchen, which helped a lot. He also had an exhaust fan going in our kitchen window. Although he vacuumed every day with his shop vac, there was still plenty of dust to be dealt with by us. As for dust in the air handling system, we tried to pretend it was not happening and that worked pretty well. For people who are highly sensitive to dust, more active intervention may be called for.
You will become very tired of eating meals out and eating microwaved meals.
It is a cliché that life without a kitchen is nightmarish, even if you are not a fancy cook. This is one cliché that stands up to empirical test. It is nightmarish and wearing for many reasons. Our main way of coping was to count down the days, constantly reminding ourselves that it was temporary and at the end we would have an uber kitchen. Others may choose to use a hot plate, slow cooker, or outdoor grill to achieve some semblance of “home-cooked” meals. I used paper plates and bowls and plastic utensils, but my husband insisted on “real” dishes even if he had to wash them awkwardly in a plastic basin on the bathroom counter.
CONCLUSION: Like childbirth, the kitchen remodel construction phase involves pain, but the payoff is more than worth it! You can minimize the pain by knowing what to expect and planning for it. Keeping a sense of humor also helps.
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