My husband and I recently began embarking on a live in "Flip" or more accurately a live in DIY renovation. Actually, we began about 6 months ago when we moved into a fairly junky house. Juggling two full time equivalents (my job plus my husband's research schedule), a toddler, our health, and a home renovation has been no joke, and we unfortunately expect that we will be keeping up the pace for another year and a half (+/-).
We also have a roommate, which means that our whole renovation and all our living space can take up no more than 1000 square feet (plus a 60 foot shed which is awkwardly in our redneck yard).
When we first began our health, our marriage, and our sanity suffered. Recently though, we've begun to hit our stride. As such, I feel like I can offer a few tips on how to survive and thrive in the several year grind known as DIY remodeling.
1. Achieve livable prior to moving in
This is the one thing that we definitely did right. Our house was a rental up until 3 weeks prior to us moving in. In those three weeks, we could have done a lot of deconstucting and renovations that would have maybe sped up our timeline by about 6 months (its amazing what you can do without furniture), but instead we spent the evenings cleaning and painting.
Since our house wasn't actually falling apart at the seams, we considered our Minimum Viable Product to be a house that smelled good, and didn't feel too grungy on entry. Paint and cleaning did the job. I don't regret this decision one bit. Living in a construction zone is not easy, but at least it feels a little bit homey, and it's possible to do light cleaning rather than just rubbing someone else's grease around.
2. Keep working out
I probably put on 5-6 pounds when we first started our home remodel. The weight in and of itself wasn't too bad because I have a frame that can actually handle quite a bit more weight than my current number. However, I prefer a more lean physique. On top of that, the weight gain was mostly attributed to the fact that I stopped working out in the evenings because I was painting, or angle grinding, or taping, or whatevering to move the projects forward.
After seeing the weight start to creep on, I started a weight training program with some built in sprints that only takes about 20 minutes to complete. This little program seems to be sufficient for maintaining both my weight and my fitness levels. On top of that, the program really reduces my stress levels. I can do my workout routine in the morning or in the evening (or over lunch if I don't blog instead), and I feel immensely better for it.
My husband puts in a 12-13 mile bike commute every week day, and sporadically does push ups. This keeps him looking and feeling good (he has a six pack in case anyone wanted to be jealous, but don't be too jealous because he's too pale to go outside sans shirt).
I think it's important to prioritize working out above the home remodel, but on most days, I have time and energy for both.
3. Do ONE project at a time
Working on different projects wouldn't seem like such a big deal but there are two reasons that this is the worst. First, you have to have twice as much construction inventory on hand to complete the projects. Where does all the inventory go? In our case, it goes in the hallway or the office. Neither of which is more inconvenient than the other. When we've got a lot of inventory hanging around, it drives me crazy.
The second weakness is that nightly clean up takes twice as long. When you are doing a live in remodel, you have to clean up all your tools and all your mess every night. This takes up a lot of time. Usually at least 30 minutes if you are doing everything yourself. However, when we work together it takes less than half the time.
As a side note, our differing expectations regarding cleanliness have easily been the biggest source of marital discord during this remodel. Since we've moved to the one project policy, this has been much less of an issue. That being said, nothing replaces good old fashioned communication of expectations, humility to admit you've messed up, and a willingness to extend and accept forgiveness as building blocks in your relationship.
4. Plan your trash
I go somewhat insane anytime I go outside and see that my trash in not properly contained. Which is why I've developed the habit of closing my eyes or directing my eyes to the sky every time I go outside. My neighbors probably think that I am constantly praying.
In all seriousness, we generate a ton of trash every time we "deconstruct", but we haven't had to rent a dumpster yet. This is because the week that we only start deconstructing when we have an empty trash can. This allows us to fill up the entire trash can with nasty carpeting, tiles, linoleum, dry wall, and other construction related refuse. It also means that we have to be very careful to generate very little trash outside of construction or we end up in a situation where I am sneaking around on Friday morning filling our neighbor's trash bins with trash that was sitting on our porch for the last 3-4 days.
As part of our trash planning, we will rent a dumpster when we deconstruct the bathrooms, just because we will be taking the bathrooms down to the studs and subfloor, but other than that, careful planning allows us to keep our trash contained while our house improves.
5. Celebrate the completion of projects
We call this taking time to admire our famous work. We seriously spend up to an hour just sitting by our completed work, drinking an adult beverage or eating ice cream. We praise each other's efforts and the results. Appreciating the work you've created is close to appreciating the person that helped you create it, and this is part of the fuel that keeps us moving forward.
Will we DIY again?
It's tough to say whether or not we will do a live in flip again. My guess is that we will not, although I think that renovating a rental house or a more generic flip is not out of the question. Also, I know that we will do some form of DIY remodeling in the future, and I think these tips will all be applicable.
What advice do you have for me?
I'm a wife, a mom, an employee, and a personal finance nerd who is devoted to spreadsheeting my way through life.