Lessons From a Major Renovation: Part 2

Lessons From Renovation Part 2

Image credit: symbiot/shutterstick.com


This post is a continuation of Lessons From a Major Renovation: Part 1.


Be Present

  • Be on site as much as possible so that you can avoid any misunderstandings or incorrect installations before they progress too far.
  • Be there to receive deliveries so that you can make sure the items you have ordered are correct and in good condition. It’s much easier than having to try to follow up afterwards and arrange for returns and new delivery dates. Once your order has been delivered, even if it is not as it should be, you fall way down the priority list.


Be Prepared

1 – Paperwork and receipts

  • Keep all of your manuals together in one container at the renovation site so that they are easy to access.
  • Have a central repository for all of your receipts so that you can find them easily to do returns or exchanges. It’s also helpful to make notes about what you bought on the receipt as the way the products are listed on the receipts is not always obvious. It will save you time when you are sifting through hundreds of receipts and trying to decipher what was bought. Some receipts fade very quickly so you may want to scan or take a picture of the important ones or ask to have them e-mailed to you if this option is available like at Home Depot.


2 – Supplies

  • Have all of your supplies on site before each project starts. Order extra supplies – things may break and need to be replaced; your product may be discontinued or be unavailable if you run out. Our contractor had done several jobs in the past where he showed up and none of the supplies had been purchased yet – this causes unnecessary delays and you may lose your place in your vendor’s project schedule.
  • If you want something installed in a particular pattern, kitchen tiles for example, decide on it and communicate it  before installation is due to begin. Our kitchen and entrance tiles came in 6 different patterns and we wanted to make sure they did not repeat next to each other or end up in a weird and distracting arrangement so we laid them out in a pattern that we liked and then labelled each tile with masking tape and a marker e.g. row 1 – tile 1, row 2 – tile 2  etc. If you do this, be sure to note the orientation of the room so that everyone knows where row 1 should be placed.
  • Designate one area for supplies and keep like items together. At the end of the day, do a tidy up and return everything to this area so you don’t need to go a-hunting the next time you need them.


3 – Use the right tools for the job

This will save so much time and frustration. You do not have to buy all the tools, many can be rented. Below are a few suggestions for good tools that are worth investing in if you will be doing work yourself:


a. Channellock Linemen’s and long nose pliers.

b. The Lever Bar Scraper for removing moldings or other trim work.  It’s very thin but durable and the hole in it is also very useful for removing nails (if the head is already exposed).

c. The Estwing nail puller to remove stubborn nails from floors or framing.  If your mission is to remove the nail without much care for the surface, you can use a hammer to wedge the nail puller under the nail-head, and then leverage it out with relative ease.

d. A reciprocating saw for when a standard circular saw is not an option (usually due to space or accessibility). The interchangeable blades are flexible, but can break if you stress them too much, so care should be taken to keep them as straight as possible when cutting.

e. The Multi-Max Dremel is great for more precision work.  With it’s oscillating interchangeable blades, it makes cutting holes in drywall to cutting through rusty nuts a much easier task.  There are different blade attachments for different materials – using the appropriate blade makes all the difference.

f. A compound miter saw with 10″ blade at minimum for angled cuts, e.g. crown moulding.


4 – A few handy things to have on site in addition to your renovation tools:

  • Music
  • Phone charger
  • Folding chairs and table
  • Coffee, water, and other drinks. An electric cooler is really convenient – be sure to also purchase the plug-in adaptor if needed as some only come with the cable for use in the car. We have the Koolatron P75 and have been happy with it (amazon.ca; amazon.com).  
  • Healthy snacks like nuts, granola bars
  • Disposable cups, plates, cutlery, napkins
  • Toilet paper, tissues, paper towels, baby wipes.
  • Hand soap, orange hand cleaner, hand towels
  • Dish soap
  • Masking tape and markers
  • Paper
  • Shop vac and other cleaning materials (the dust is unbelievable)
  • Garbage cans and bags
  • Face masks (again, the dust is unbelievable)
  • Work gloves
  • Protective eyewear
  • Ear plugs
  • Extension cords
  • Lights: work lights on stands, flashlight, head lamp (amazon.ca; amazon.com)
  • Shoe covers, clean cardboard boxes that are staple-free to protect your new floors


5 – Always carry your reno plans with you

You never know when you might see something interesting or when inspiration will strike so it’s good to keep these reference points on hand when you are out and about:

  • Your plan, budget, and timelines
  • Visual touchstones (e.g. floor plans, room measurements, inspiration pictures, checklists of wants and don’t wants, paint chips, tile samples, floor samples, countertop samples or pictures)
  • Fabric swatches
  • Measuring tape
  • Dimensions of furniture and appliances as well as model numbers.  Save the pdfs of appliances to your phone as a quick reference as you may need to check specs e.g. how much space you need to leave around your fridge in order for it to operate properly.


Keep Up with Health and Exercise

Have a healthy stress relief plan, like regular exercise, and pay attention to how you are eating – you will have more energy and feel better. My “plan” consisted largely of potato chips. I do not recommend this and am still finding it hard to break the habit more than a year later but changes are in the works and I am giving myself a health and fitness reboot which I will write more about next week – subscribe to get notified  when it is published.


All the best for your renovation projects! If you have any tips or stories to share, please do so in the comments below. If you would like to share pics or if you have any questions, please e-mail me at hello@practicalmagic.blog. 



A few great sources for renovation and decorating inspiration:


  1. Super helpful with my upcoming renos! Unfortunately I’ll likely have the same stress diet! 😂 Thanks for sharing!

  2. Good luck with the reno! Let me know how it’s going and maybe hold a dumbbell in the hand that’s not holding the chips and do a bicep curl with each bite – remember to alternate arms so you don’t end up lopsided :).

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