1. It takes MUCH longer & is MUCH more exhausting than anticipated!
Although our shower room renovation physically took 13 working days, there was a lot to coordinate beforehand and during. We contacted several companies for quotes in January but apparently decent tradespeople are never available immediately, so we had to wait until April for the work to actually begin. This was only after getting some quotes, chasing some quotes, clarifying some quotes, ignoring the extortionate quotes and choosing a company we liked that quoted a reasonable price. This in itself can take weeks. Luckily, my husband manages a plumbing and heating company so he had a good grasp of expected costings and made sure we weren’t being ripped off. If you don’t have a partner who has knowledge in this area, I would recommend carefully researching the companies you are asking to quote and asking family/friends/colleagues for their advice – everyone usually knows someone who is having/has had renovation work done!
When the work does start, it’s highly inconvenient and exhausting having people in your house all the time – despite the fact you’re paying them to be there! Getting home from a long day at work to find workmen still banging, knocking, drilling etc. is infuriating. Making them drinks is irksome. Getting constantly interrupted when you’ve got a day off but it’s chucking it down and you’re trying to watch Homes Under the Hammer (because you’ve given up trying to look busy so as not to be judged) is maddening. However, the final day of the renovation eventually arrives and you’ll be so happy to have your improved rooms finished you’ll (almost) forget all the hassle!
2. It is possible to get shopping fatigue!
I’m better with choosing from a limited range. Give me access to the entire internet & I dither…there’s too much choice & it’s difficult to narrow it down if you’re not absolutely certain about what style/type/colour etc. you’re actually looking for, especially if it’s a marital compromise! Therefore, although it’s good to have an overall ‘vision’, the details do need to be thought about too before getting wedged down a seemingly endless online rabbit hole.
As my husband had the final say for our shower room design, I chose everything for our bedroom and I really struggled at times to bring everything together (at a price I was willing to pay – £500+ for a velvet accent chair is not the one!). I managed to source everything I imagined for the bedroom eventually (at acceptable prices!), however, some of it was just pure luck as I saw or found something I loved in Ideal Home magazine or on Instagram whilst not actively searching. Therefore, I would recommend allowing the universe to do its thing sometimes before becoming too frustrated and frazzled!
3. No matter how house proud you are, it is FUTILE to clean up daily.
The dust permeates EVERYWHERE – through doors, your hair, clothes, pets etc. no matter the size of the room(s) you’re renovating. The workmen leave their messy piles of stuff everywhere. Putting sheets or cellophane on the floor makes no difference (and they’re a trip/slip hazard for a person prone to clumsiness!). The rooms of your house that aren’t undergoing any transformations are cluttered with everything from the rooms of your house that are being renovated, therefore, it’s impossible to clean up every day. I am not a person who can dwell happily in a messy (or even untidy) house but, at times, I had to admit defeat and just leave it. It was much more worthwhile to try to switch off by reading (#40booksformy40th recommendations here, here and here), cleaning just the bath and soaking in it whilst ignoring the surroundings, or popping to the in-laws for a bit of escapism.
4. Therefore, if you’re planning on renovating more than one room in your home, it’s actually more worthwhile to do two (or more) at once.
This may well push you over the edge though so make sure there’s one room you can (try to) relax in that feels relatively normal.
We wanted to try to get two rooms renovated within 6 months of moving in and we have achieved that. We thought that if we had beautiful rooms to get clean in and sleep in, we would cope better when we eventually renovate the kitchen and reconfigure downstairs. Therefore, the worst disruption is already over as we’ve managed to cope with the mess all in one go, we’ve managed without a toilet temporarily and we’ve managed sleeping in the cluttered spare room on our old, smaller bed with curtains that don’t actually cover the window properly! Now, when we move onto renovating our other bathroom and eventually the kitchen/dining/sitting room, there are other lovely rooms to retreat to when it all gets a bit too much.
5. There will be extra, unexpected expenses.
Remember those quotes you got, chased and clarified at the beginning? Well, be prepared for something unexpected to happen that will mean extra expense, and budget accordingly. In our case, we needed a false ceiling installing in the room below the shower room to conceal all the new pipe work, which meant extra time, materials and labour = expense. It’s annoying, but necessary. If the company is reputable, the tradesmen will consult you and check with you at every stage anyway, so you are aware of possible problems and suggested solutions.
Our shower room and bedroom were quite small transformations in comparison to our planned major kitchen renovation, so if anyone has any advice for coping without a kitchen whilst knocking down a wall and fitting bi-fold doors, please feel free to speak up!