Making Do – What It’s Like Living In A Construction Zone

IMG_5422.JPGWe’re at an inflection point in our kitchen remodel in that we think we’re finally done with the “destruction” part of our project, and are moving forward into the “construction” part of our project. But right here, right now, marks what we’re thinking of as the point of “maximal chaos” here in the PoP household (or at least pretty close to it).

While enduring chaos has been a non-trivial part of growing our net worth, these past six months have pushed the boundaries of what we’ve lived through before we started this kitchen renovation. Since already some of the worse parts of what we endured are starting to fade quickly from memory, I just want to take a few minutes to record some of the craziness that is living in a construction zone and just how adaptable we can be if we choose to be.

Survived without laundry for about a month while the plumbing for our laundry was moved (including moving the water pipes and the drain that ran through the foundation). At the time, this felt ridiculously hard. I had to trek over to Mr PoP’s parents’ house 15 minutes away (the nearest laundromat isn’t much closer than this) and spend several hours there doing laundry every weekend. How spoiled I’ve become since becoming a homeowner by having laundry in our house!

But that was just a taste of what was to come… 

Replaced the pantry with a cardboard box. The pantry was one of the first things to go when we started moving walls to widen the kitchen. Luckily, just the week before Kitty PoP had received his new Rolls Royce of litter boxes and the giant box it came in was quickly repurposed to store most of our pantry items. Seldom used items went into the back, and often used items like nuts, beans, dried fruit, and oatmeal went to the front. This box has moved around various parts of the kitchen, living room, and back patio to accommodate whatever construction we’re working on at the moment, but has served as our pantry for the last six months. And probably will for a couple more. Surprisingly, this hasn’t been a big deal. I’ve basically forgotten what’s at the back of the pantry/box (a George Foreman grill?), so maybe I’ll be getting rid of some small appliances when we’ve finally got cabinetry to empty the pantry/box into.

Lived without a kitchen ceiling for three months, and then with just insulation (no drywall) for another two months. Mr PoP and his brother pulled the kitchen ceiling down a week into January. It was March before we finished the truss modifications. And April before the electric and air conditioning was all completed in the ceiling and we could start to put up insulation. That whole intervening time, there was no barrier between our kitchen and our attic and the air conditioner was completely shut off from use everywhere in the house. Any time a stiff breeze blew through the soffit, a little puff of cellulose insulation would float down from the attic to the kitchen below. The kitchen was very susceptible to whatever temperature the attic was – getting down to 43 degrees the night the overnight temperature dropped to 36 (ridiculously cold for us) – and becoming quite steamy when the temperature started to rise to the high 80s. The rest of the house wasn’t quite as bad, but there were a couple of weeks where the interior temperature was still nearly 80 as we were trying to go to bed and we actually had to sleep with the sliding doors in our bedroom open at night to sleep. This was probably the low point of the entire renovation as I wasn’t actually sleeping much at all during this time and the exhaustion due to not sleeping well was really terrible emotionally.

Kitchen cabinetry kept slowly disappearing (as did the drywall and insulation behind them as electric and plumbing lines behind them were replaced) and appliances kept moving. As we went along replacing electric and plumbing lines in the walls, cabinets kept coming down and appliances were moved all around. Our refrigerator lived in various spots in our living room for five months (not having an icemaker was not a big deal). But having the microwave on the same circuit as the refrigerator and the laser printer was, apparently. It couldn’t run for more than 40 or so seconds without blowing the breaker there. As the cabinets came down, we managed to salvage a few of them, which we have stacked around the kitchen holding our dishes. When the cabinet that held the kitchen sink and dishwasher came out (the last to leave!), we thought we’d be able to get by with doing the dishes by hand in the utility sink in our garage, but found the local mosquito population liked that idea a little too much and instead Mr PoP constructed a temporary sink pedestal so we could keep dishes and a kitchen sink mostly-functioning inside. The dish-drainer, however, hasn’t been in the kitchen since January. It’s on the floor of the shower in the guest bathroom, of course.

Cooking has been challenging. Without a ceiling, the focus was on meals that could be prepared completely covered (thank you InstaPot!) and without a lot of counter space or requiring a lot of prep pots and pans. There have been many peanut butter sandwiches consumed this year. PB & banana on toast. With honey. Or agave nectar if that’s what’s in the pantry/box. PB on banana, no bread. PB & J on tortilla. Mr PoP is partial to an open face mountain of PB atop some J. We may be PB-d out by the end of this project (if we’re not there already). We’ve also eaten more Publix subs and other convenience foods than we otherwise would (heck even eating this much store bought bread is out of our normal, but a necessity).

The garage has also been completely occupied with construction materials and our poor car hasn’t been able to go to her room at night in months (and probably won’t be back in there until the fall at the earliest). Not only is she extra filthy from sitting out under the tree every night, but the interior actually got pretty waterlogged when the first big rain came and we hadn’t realized how her drain ports had been clogged by leaves and twigs falling into them and getting stuck.

We can’t walk barefoot through our own house. We’re sweeping up constantly, to keep nails, screws, and other sharp construction debris out of here, but the floor’s gotten even worse since we removed the tile a couple of weekends ago. Our current state has us with a floor that’s been mostly removed, but not prepped for new tile. This means there are still bits of tile mortar in spots, along with craters where some of the concrete came out with removing the tiles, as well as a thin film of dust that no matter how many times I sweep and vacuum won’t seem to go away. Kitty PoP is leaving dusty paw prints wherever he goes, so we have the fabric couches covered with sheets to protect them. Since the floor is so rough, we have as much of the living room furniture crowded into our bedroom as can fit, with the rest placed against the walls of the living room to leave room for stack of drywall and tools that is currently sitting in the middle of the living room.

Maybe all of this sounds like absolutely nothing to you, or an absolute blast. Mr PoP is the kind of guy that takes stuff like this completely in stride and even takes pride his stoicism in situations like these. For me, change like this is harder*. While I take pride in the work we’ve accomplished, I don’t necessarily take pride in the fact that we’ve been able to live in a construction zone and it stresses me out from time to time. Mostly I just see it as a necessary means to an end that I really do want, and that I will likely banish from my mind as soon as it’s all over and we’ve got the kitchen of my (our?) dreams. =)


* The family joke growing up was that they were lucky I was born after Vatican II, or I’d have insisted the priests turn around and speak in Latin! (Catholic joke, sorry if you don’t get it.)




My name’s Amelia, and I’m all about helping others achieve success.

As a financial writer and marketing manager, I love working with different types of media to create and promote killer content.

I’m also passionate about using my skills and abilities to help others achieve their goals and dreams.

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