How to Live on a Building Site

Wednesday, 1st February 2023

The builders are coming and you have decided to live in the house during the renovation. Here are five simple tips to help you survive living on a building site.

The Builders’ Zone
Depending on the extent of the renovation, builders may need access to the majority of the house but that doesn’t stop you setting up a central area for tradesmen. In an ideal world, this is a garage or outbuilding. Put a kettle in there, a few chairs, a bin, a radio and the biscuits! Make it clear that this is where they have their lunches, tea breaks, dump rubble sacks, make calls and discuss plans. Without that, tradesmen and their tools and rubbish can quickly take over every room and all sense of privacy and control feels gone.

Start and Finish Times
When you are living off site, a builder that starts work at 7am is a refreshing change. When you are on site, bumping in to the plumber in your pyjamas is not a great way to start the day. You’ll soon find yourself getting up at the crack of dawn just in case a tradesmen arrives unannounced. Have a fixed agreement with builders about their core hours. For your sake and the neighbours, agree start and finish times and give them a key so they can come and go when they please between those hours.

A Makeshift Kitchen
It will depend on the project, but if the kitchen is affected by the renovation, set up a temporary kitchen somewhere else in the house. A cupboard, a microwave, slow cooker, kettle or even a little gas stove. That can be enough to produce various simple meals without having to cook using a derelict kitchen.

Daily Clean Up
Agree with your tradesmen, that after each day they need to complete a site clean up. It adds time to their day but it makes a huge difference to your mental state particularly if you are coming back from work each day. It controls and contains the dust, stops rubbish piling up and helps you see what progress has been made. The endless dust created by building work can soon take over your house. Invest in dust sheets and lots of them. Completely seal off areas that don’t need to be touched. Vacuums and sponge mops can be used to gather any dust that has settled.

Take a Break
The decision not to move out is usually financial. Paying rent or hotel fees on top of a mortgage and renovation often stretches the budget too far. However, staying put will add a layer of stress. You come home at the end of the day to a building site and start inspecting everything that has gone on that day. You are cramped up in a make shift kitchen and your life and space has been squashed into one living area. Take a break every now and then. Visit friends for a weekend, have the occasional meal at a restaurant. Sometimes you just need to factor the costs of maintaining your own sanity into the budget.

A day or two away, will revitalise you and give you the space to forget about the upheaval that is happening at home.