Renovating is Dirty Work

renovating is dirty work

Let me be blunt.


Renovating sucks.

It’s dirty.  It’s messy.  It’s chaotic.  It’s financially straining and it just takes too long!

It’s easy to romanticise the concept when you’re on your eighth straight episode of The Block or Renovation Rescue – but the reality is an entirely different story.

Cascading boxes filled with books, toys, clothes and shoe towers impressively breeding in every conceivable corner of what used to be our home have become our daily reality.

With 2 teenagers and 1 toddler, 6am starts with little feet kicking me in the back and ordering me to wake up and make milk.  This is quickly followed with brooding, sleep deprived teenagers scowling at me for breathing and for having to brace themselves as they dart from their warm beds into the unheated, partially completed “new” bathroom.  There’s no heating yet but gee the tiles look great!

Dust and dirt residing in every imaginable nook and cranny, and no matter how unending the cleaning feels, it never seems to dissipate.  These are tasters of the brutal realities of our lives in renovation and exactly what will constitute yours if you live in your renovation.

So I’d like to explore this notion of doing that.  Are we insane?   Before undertaking a substantial renovation one of the most important questions you need to ask yourself, your partner and your family is whether it’s the right decision to stay or to leave.   Yes; you can save a lot of money by staying, think of all that rent money and rent money is dead money right?  But on the flipside, there’s another cost, not a financial one but one that involves your sanity and the well being of your family.

After all having a toddler walking on hardwood floors that have been exposed but not de-stapled could probably cost much angst and a trip to the local Emergency Dept.  Or they may fall down an unfilled stump hole, standing there one minute, gone the next, just a small head looking up at you where your boots are.  Can you tough it out?  It will cost more and take longer than you think so factor in a few ‘what ifs’ before making your final decision.  Finally, don’t forget the sub-contractors and tradies that will be marching through your living quarters (their work site) from 7am onwards.  Permanent guests with smiling rugged faces that beckon your guilt to make them a coffee, tea, water or beer at the end of a hot summer’s day.  One my construction site, the smiling, smart and clean tradies are offered a latte from the coffee machine and the others an instant.  They compare coffees you know?  And then there’s competition to see who’ll get a latte.  Is that mean?  No, it’s called a reward system and I use it every time.

We decided to stay.  Did we do the right thing?  Yes we did because we didn’t want more upheaval for the kids and we also wanted the older 2 to experience going back to basics (and I’m talking absolute basics…our teenage daughter calling our home a slum more than once) and toughing life out a little.  They’re privileged kids and they’re good kids but we thought this experience would make them appreciate the finished product a hell of a lot more than renting in a comfortable home with heating and cooling and floors and a ceiling…Ahem…

Early morning rises to the sounds and smells of builders and contractors may play out like a nightmare for most, but certainly not for me. I love construction sites.  I love seeing the improvement each day/week/month and I love living in the anticipation of a beautiful home.

It’s a consistent reminder of the what-could-be and what-will-be that played out in my imagination when we dreamt this crazy dream a few years ago and one that still plays out each and every day. A conceptualisation of the stock-standard cliche ‘you’ve got to go backwards to go forwards’.  The skeletal, uninspired weatherboard house that had remained unchanged for half a century is day by day transforming into the double story federation style home of our dreams and I love being responsible for that.

Through gentle reminders of the inevitability of completion and the temporary nature of such discomforts, my sanity has remained wholeheartedly intact and by grasping the understanding that nothing worthwhile was achieved without effort, the extra energy, commitments, ideas and inspiration needed to adequately live in such chaos seemed to me like a fair exchange.

Right now it’s dirty work. There may seem like there’s simply no end in sight but hang in there, lovelies it will be all worth it in the end.

I believe we are bigger and better than we think we are and this process proves it in more ways than one.

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