This most frequently asked question is best deliberated with the professionals, because builders say they have lived through more renovations than home owners, and actually do know best.
Says one happy family who decided to renovate their house in the tranquil suburb of Clovelly near Fish Hoek in Cape Town’s Far South, where during winter the sun only rises around midday, that moving out while renovating was an opportunity to explore a sunny location with sea views.
As a family prone to allergies, the decision to remove themselves from the potentially harmful living conditions for the duration of the renovations was not a difficult on to make. Fortunately this afforded their building contractor the opportunity to determine rising damp problems resulting from high water tables below the house. Major mildew problems not previously visible were rectified through professional intervention, that was only possible due to all living areas being unoccupied. What transpired after settling back into their renewed living spaces was the realisation that not only do they prefer their magical mountain views, but most of all the extra daylight hours during summer when the sun sets much later in the evening, as opposed to mid afternoon in north facing areas.
Another important factor to consider when moving out say the experts, after determining with contractors the lowest possible levels of chemical pollution introduced through building materials during renovations, is to allow sufficient time for the air to clear prior to moving back.
But, moving out is a costly business that requires as much planning as the renovations itself, says building professionals. They also say families who lived through major renovations without serious implications are usually those who planned sufficiently, and beyond the expected costs. Such families would have the financial means to afford reasonable accommodation during renovations, that is either rented or by moving in with relatives or friends within close proximity to the renovation project. Contractors say to have their client nearby for regular input and inspections, as well as the need for minimal disturbance to the daily routines of both school going children and working parents, so as to continue a functional lifestyle during renovations, is vital to a successful project.
However, not all renovations are major and can be done without serious disturbances to daily life. Say the gurus, if you decide to stay, ensure that tight barriers are created against dust, noise and builders’ traffic. If necessary, during kitchen and bathroom makeovers, create a temporary cooking station and have at least one bathroom free that can sustain additional traffic. For those wishing to survive major kitchen renovations, it is suggested that allocating a small eating out budget might lessen the burden of operating in a make-shift kitchen for extended periods. And when large living areas are being renovated, consider migrating to another section of the house, by placing furniture in temporary storage that can be hired on a monthly basis.
Most importantly, plan and agree on the different budgets necessary to complete a renovation project despite the unknown, such as unexpected building delays or structural problems. In addition to renovation costs that are pre-determined through consulting at least more than one contractor, if necessary cost in temporary relocation and storage, additional extras such as new fixtures and fittings, entertainment, and if possible an allocation for the unexpected.