First, a little bit about our renovation story if you’re new here
They say that Rome wasn't built in a day, well whoever said that must have renovated an 1930's house "in need of updating". When we moved into our house, we knew that the renovation was going to be a long-winded process. Every single room was in need of some work, the walls, floors and ceilings were all on their proverbial hands and knees begging for an overhaul, and that was just the cosmetic work.
It was 2016 and it could have gone very differently, in between navigating a flat sale in the middle of the Brexit vote we were also deciding on whether we would go the easy route i.e. buying an already renovated place or the 'scenic route' i.e. renovating a place.
We saw some stinkers, literally in fact, there was one place that smelled like a dilapidated urine processing facility. We eventually found the house that we would fall in love with, a lovely red brick 1930's house in serious need of some tender loving care.
But let's cut to the chase. Fast forward a year and we were knee deep in the most ambitious phase of our renovation project yet - the open plan kitchen diner. We'd already seen some dust and disruption, but the act of working from home during a structural kitchen build was nigh on insanity to even attempt. The endless planning, budgeting, trips to the tip, DIY, online browsing and purchasing was starting to make us realise quite how much work was involved in a renovation when you're supposed to be working full time and with various side businesses too.
More recently still, we passed a very satisfying milestone that saw us completing the final tough piece of our renovation - the bathroom. As the year came to a close we gave pause for thought to the big question "what's next?". After two years of renovating you know what the answer was? "No more renovating yet, thanks awfully".
Our decision to pause the renovation work…
So then the decision was made, we would do no more renovation work in the coming year, we would finish the last phase (the master bedroom) the year after, we would take some time off. Or so we thought. It was in the first part of the following year that we had our great idea to start helping fellow first time renovators and condense all of our learnings into our renovation resources, including the launch of an online course. This has kept us busier than ever before, now we’re up to our eyeballs in digital dust rather than brick dust!
Our plans right now that we’re paused… (so exciting!)
We think that being a renovator perhaps takes a certain type of person, maybe a go-getter, maybe someone with ambition or courage, or maybe just someone with a desire who can put up with quite a lot of shit for a temporary period. We found out one thing for certain though, it does get a bit much and are now firm believers that it is totally OK if you want to take some time off from renovating to live your life.
So to that end… we have planned a 3 week trip to South America, not just a relaxing / lying on the beach kind of affair though, no way! An action-packed backpacking adventure traversing mountains, trekking through the Amazonian jungle and jeep touring across deserts. So anyway, about this “year off”.
So, how do you manage a renovation and your own well-being?
1. Give yourself permission
If, like us, you’re living in your renovation and you don’t have any time constraints, give yourself permission to take some time off from renovating. If you’re working on your forever home you have so many years of your life to get your house sorted. Use your youth and your health to build experiences and valuable memories too. Take a year out – accept that things won’t be perfect immediately.
2. Complete the renovation in phases
As it’s not always possible or and probably not that desirable to do all of your renovation in one big chunk. Get the work prioritised and plan out your phases so you get your urgent stuff sorted out first of all and then move onto the lower priorities. After each phase you can take stock and work out your next move.
3. Get out into the countryside
This has always been an important to us as a couple and our weekly walks were the first to suffer in our renovation, but when we could get out in the country it was so nice to be able to step out of the rubble and get some of the benefits of spending time in nature.
4. When you’re in it, you’re really in it
When you’re in full renovation mode every spare moment will need to be very much focused on spinning all of the plates, DIY, budgeting, planning, being generally organised. It’s easy to get carried away with it all. Plan in weekends and holidays away beforehand, use some of your budget. if possible to take small holidays throughout the renovation. We had an absolutely lovely all-inclusive in Corfu which allowed us to recharge, relax and renew.
5. Get all the renovation support you can
Honestly, the reason why we produced and launched the How to Renovate a House Online Course, and share all these stories on our blog, is because we know just how hard it is to do a renovation alone. The hours we spent researching every little detail we have now condensed into our online course for first time renovators to get a head start. So if you’re juggling a new reno project and you’re wondering where on earth to start, we’re glad you’ve found us!
Thanks for reading and please do sign up to our mailing list for more stories, advice and tips.
Neil and Fifi xoxo