Our home remodel story is one for the books: a world pandemic hit the week our home was in dust-covered shambles. Here’s peek into the reality of what it’s been like remodeling a home during a world pandemic.
I have had so many one-off Instagram conversations about how we’ve held up remodeling during a pandemic. It’s been about the craziest thing, and a story I’m sure we’ll tell for generations! Because of this, I knew it was worth documenting and worth sharing with our Friday We’re in Love community too!
Let me start with questions we’ve received, and tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly of remodeling during a pandemic.
Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ #1: Did you know a pandemic was coming when you started?
Nope! We were scheduled to start in February 2020. Our cabinets had a delay (due to international shipping issues) that we had no clue were related to COVID-19. I actually counted it as a blessing. I was a speaker at Alt Summit this year the first week of March. I’m so glad we could have our babysitter come to our home all week without a torn-up place! I also had one of the busiest work seasons I’ve ever had in February. I was glad there was a little more time to plan and pack up our home.
Obviously, now I kind of wish we could have started a month earlier! We heard our first warnings to be careful and this was possibly coming to the US right before we started. There were no confirmed cases publically shared in the U.S. at the time. It still seemed so minimal and it was weeks before anyone seemed worried. We’d been scheduling everything for months and saving for years. We figured it would be no problem, and we’d be done in a month anyway.
How did the pandemic play out with your remodel?
I came home from Alt Summit very late on Friday night after staying an extra day to go shoot some content in the Joshua Tree Forest with one of my favorite brands to work with. Saturday was spent packing our kitchen and living room, and I had this overwhelming feeling I couldn’t shake that I should make a bunch of crockpot freezer meals. I clearly share a lot in the one meal now, one meal later series. I also love these slow cooker dump recipes meal plan. We use it all the time!
And it felt strange to stop all the packing to spend a few hours shopping and prepping dinners. I shopped Saturday and assembled 15 meals on Sunday hoping it would get us through the next three weeks without a kitchen. It was so easy to get every ingredient and put together meals. Hello, biggest blessing of my life that we kept us alive a few weeks into the remodel as restaurants shut down!
What was the Timeline of the Demolition and Stay Home Orders?
We had the kitchen demo start the following Monday.Our home had tile throughout 2/3rds of it, and it was all ripped out over a series of a week. We literally had dust and cement and unsafe living areas everywhere.
On Monday, it was spring break in Arizona. My parents took my kids so we could supervise the demolition crew. They went to a trampoline park with little to no worry since there wasn’t a single case in Arizona and there were no guidelines to stay home. Jacob and I are actually so grateful this happened, it was our kid’s last adventure!
By Wednesday, it was recommended everyone stay home. Restaurants lobbies closed by the end of the week, as did all social places. I can’t believe how fast it all happened! We truly were blindsided by the lack of warning and preparedness in our country.
Jacob took PTO for the Monday/Tuesday demolition and was back in the office Wednesday. By Thursday evening, the company he was consulting for (and working out of their office) shut down and sent everyone home. By Friday, the company he works for shut down office operations throughout the world with work-from-home orders.
I could hardly believe what happened in only a week!
So let’s get down to the good, the bad, and the ugly. Only I like to share the good news last. So I’m going to keep things positive here at the end.
The Hardest Parts
It’s a challenge to remodel no matter what the world looks like. Having your home torn up and feeling like you don’t have a safe place to be is a strange feeling. But when you’re trying to flatten the curve and stay home, it’s extra hard to not really have a home you can be in. I’ve never experienced the feeling like nowhere is safe, even in my abusive past, work and time with family felt safe. But this time, only our bedroom which we haven’t included in the remodel was safe. And it was full of all our furniture!
But beyond my own personal feelings, was the struggles of having a busy toddler and an active preschooler. They weren’t allowed to walk through the house. There were days we didn’t have a bathroom. We wanted to completely social distance, but we had no choice but to move in with my parents for a few days. Who happen to be in the at-risk age group and my dad is still recovering from health scares earlier this year. It was straight-up terrifying to worry about their safety and feel terrible having no other place to turn.
We’d planned to spend our days at museums and parks. It was supposed to be this fun adventure time for them! I’m forever grateful Grandma and grandpa are so close to us, and their home does feel like a fun safe place to be. But it was extra hard to have two boys ready to play and explore and keep them tied down to a backyard area or grandma’s living room.
The moment we were down to the cement without demo crews or raw edges, and deep cleaned the dust, we moved back into our bedrooms. It wasn’t ideal, it wasn’t a place our kids could be. But at least there were beds and a functional toilet. Plus, we could social distance and know we could stay home and sleep in our own beds.
There was a slow cooker in the garage and lots of fig bars and protein bars. Those kept us alive while the food was so hard to get in one week! And I’ll forever be thankful for that card table we set up and the restaurants that did takeout and delivery. Because we had plans to eat out for an entire week, and clearly there was nowhere to go eat! Not that we would have, truly, we’ve tried to be as safe as possible and anything we’ve done has been drive-through, pickup, and a lot of disinfectant wipes. It just about killed me that we planned to be out of our home for two weeks, and then we had to reconcile being in it without plans.
The Ugly Parts
The timing was thrown off by weeks due to supply chain issues and crew issues. Workers had to take different precautions. Contractors are known to have scheduling issues, but this took things to a level no one could have expected. We planned things to take twice the original timeline. What we thought would be two weeks of an unlivable space ended up being almost a month. But that wasn’t the only thing supply chain issues threw off.
There have been so many little things we’ve just had to put on hold. I didn’t choose a backsplash for our kitchen, because I really wanted to see it all come together first. We figured we’d go buy a bunch of samples and knock it out all in one day. And then, the stores shut down and you couldn’t go look at samples.
Several things have been on backorder. There were people we planned to hire to come to finish construction. We’ve had to limit this, and disinfect like crazy anytime a person has come to work on our home. More DIY elements than we thought. And several parts of the remodel are just 75% done because we don’t have a choice. If you were wondering where the kitchen reveal is, that’s the answer. When we get those last elements done, we’ll share the full thing. And we’re really hopeful that’s only another month or two away!
The Good Parts
When everything started collapsing that first week, my inner project manager kicked in. We asked my parents to keep our kids all Saturday so we could run every errand possible before anywhere else shut down. Most places had already, but we knew we could still get paint and paint supplies. We literally made a list of everything we may need to get our house functional again. I mean working plumbing, new toilets, electrical, flooring, etc. We spent the entire day (and we joke half our life savings) getting as much as possible. Although it wasn’t everything, it has kept us going!
We have a lot of time at home right now clearly. Every night we can tackle another big thing that needs to be done. If you follow us on Instagram, you know five to six nights a week we put our kids to be and tackle another thing. Some of it is desperation to complete things. A lot of it is this is how we both process this hard time. If we’re home, we’re getting things done and keeping busy as a distraction.
So although it was more DIY than we’ve planned, we have saved a lot of money doing it ourselves! We’ve learned a lot! And with Jacob saving about an hour a day not commuting, we’re using that extra time to get things done.
We have so much more to do, but needless to say, WE’VE STAYED BUSY!
On the bright side, it’s felt like we’ve had all the time in the world to tackle these things without any other obligations in the evenings or on the weekends. It’s also provided a lot of project date nights and a lot of memories. Tomorrow, I’m going to share a list of things we’ve done, and a list of things we’re doing this coming month. If you’re looking for some home improvement ideas, I promise we’ll help you find a great project you can do yourself!
Would I Do it All Over Again?
So would I recommend it? No, definitely I would not! You don’t realize how wonderful it was to complain you need to do another home improvement store run, until it’s kind of terrifying to go and there are very limited hours and times it’s even possible.
I’m so grateful we started it, and I’m so grateful for the time now. But had I known the stress and fear it would have caused the entire month of March, I would have postponed. However, we somehow made it through it safely and healthily. We’re lucky, and had I known we’d be this lucky I may have agreed to the crazy homeless feeling the scariest weeks of this pandemic. And I wouldn’t trade the ability to be home and work on a billion home improvement and DIY projects while we have this time!
But if you’ve thought of improving one area, I think it’s a fantastic time to tackle these things! So many stores have pickup and delivery options. If you’re home and bored, or just have the time to figure out something you didn’t know how to do before, there’s no time like the present!
I know our remodel story is one for the books. And I have never been so grateful for a roof over my head and floors under my feet. Did I mention having a kitchen is amazing? I am not sure I’ll complain about making dinner again. Because knowing the gift of being able to eat and to do it safely is something I hope I never take for granted again!
Stay tuned for part two with some progress shots and a progress list tomorrow! I can’t wait to share the positive that has come from this madness!
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