Renovate or root-canal?

Private Property South Africa
Martin Hatchuel

I’ve had root-canal treatment, and I’ve lived in my house while we renovated it – and as experiences go, I found the two quite similar.

Especially when it came to the relief I felt when the mess was finally cleared away.

True, my builder wasn’t as attractive as my dentist, and in terms of cement and such probably not as expensive, but I’ll hand them both this: they prepared themselves well, and, given the painful nature of their work, they did the best they could to make my passage thorough those various ordeals as comfortable as possible.

My dentist gave me a shot of anaesthetic: my builder parked a caravan in my garden to house me.

They were both a little chilly and a little uncomfortable.

Had to be done

Nevertheless, both jobs had to be done, and done with a will, and while my beautiful new filling hasn’t substantially increased my personal value as a market commodity, at least the renovation has made the house more saleable.

And that’s the point: like root-canal, renovation is good for you – although, according to Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, it can be as stressful as moving into a new home altogether.

“There’s always the potential for toes to get stepped on with everyone living under the same roof: even more so when you add a crew of contractors into the mix, and they turn your restful oasis into a noisy, bustling construction site,” he said.

“If renovation is on the cards, it’s important to get everyone in the family prepared since it’s not easy living in a home that’s partially under construction.

“It’s imperative to have a solid plan of action so that everyone remains on good terms. People can get irritable when the basics of life aren’t readily available, so decide beforehand where everyone will sleep, shower and eat during the renovation –especially if the project will affect these areas of the home.”

Move out!

Adrian said that moving out completely might be an option – especially if the renovations will be extensive – but he, like my Good Builder, also suggested that staying in a caravan on your property might work. (It did for me – especially since we made only minor changes in my bathroom, so I was able to use that facility throughout the project. Although sharing a bath with a portly painter hadn’t really been in my life’s plan. But I think he might have been as embarrassed as I was.)

“Setting ground rules from the outset will help everyone deal with the situation far better,” said Adrian. “For example, you should ensure that the contractor is willing to do a cleanup at the end of each day’s work. This will allow the family to function to some degree of normality during the evenings. If possible, it’s also ideal to keep at least one room and a bathroom fully functional at all times.

“The kitchen forms the heart of most homes, and so if this space is being renovated it’s essential to ensure that there is an alternative. This is when an outside braai area will come into its own as a great way for the family to enjoy a meal together while the kitchen is in pieces.

“There’s also the option of takeout food – which addresses the issue of washing up.” (I employed this strategy. Fully. With gusto. The LCHF diet? Yeah: in my home, but not on my building site... The renovations cost me about five kilograms.)

“The best way to reduce stress levels is to keep your eyes on the finish line and remember that the situation is only temporary,” said Adrian.

“It’s important to remember how great it’ll be to settle back into a newly renovated home and enjoy the new space.”

And you know what? Like chewing with a pain-free tooth, that’s exactly how it was.

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