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How I Survived An Entire House Renovation

Written by Tiffany H

How did I survive living with babies in an entire house renovation?

I guess to sum it up real quick and easy:

Not too well.

There I said it. πŸ˜› I did sort of terribly.

This pregnancy has put my stress-levels over the top when added to living in dirt, clutter, drywall dust, grout, insulation, paint and stink, boxelder and spider bugs + a super active baby boy. Currently the bathroom renovation has taken 6 WEEKS longer than I hoped and hubby planned.

The House Renovation We’re Dealing With

Right now the only bathroom is in pieces. The crappy shower/tub combo that was here when we bought the house is sitting, functional, in the middle of where the new hallway is going to be. And right next to the new shower Hubby is tiling.

To get IN the shower, you have to avoid stepping in the old wax toilet ring in the middle of the tiny, gross floor space left.

Then squeeze in around the wall to the new shower, making sure not to touch the old spider-webby beams behind you.

Understand, the old owners must have been midgets. The shower head that’s installed ON the surround wall makes the water hit right around a 5’5″ girl’s shoulder, or below a 6’1″ guy’s armpit.

Don’t forget to look up as you’re enjoying the hot water on your butt and watch the carpenter ants crawl around on the open beams above your head. πŸ˜›

Oh, and while we’re talking about open beams… the old midget owners also had no carpentry skills.

They CUT OFF 4 IMPORTANT BEAMS holding the ceiling and roof up, above the shower.

God has been busy protecting my hubby, and the rest of us from this stupidity. Hubby was on the roof just days before tearing out the ceiling and finding those beams.

How I Survived A Whole House Renovation

Now, picture this. Going to the bathroom at night means you have to:

  1. sneak past the baby
  2. pray he doesn’t wake up
  3. go down the squeaky stairs
  4. through the living room
  5. around the dining room table
  6. through a bedroom that’s full of lath and plaster (with old nails in it, all over the floor) and overflow junk
  7. down a big scary step
  8. over a wide, bottom-less pit, hole
  9. up a step
  10. only to squeeze past the washer and dryer and
  11. oh thank God, there’s the toilet

Do that multiple times a night, times 6 some weeks, with a growing belly. Try to not go crazy.

Yeah, I thought not. πŸ˜‰

How I Survived An Entire House Renovation

House Renovation – Survival of the Fittest

That was written during my pregnancy with our sweet baby girl. We moved into this diamond in the rough when Baby Boy was 4 months old. It’s now his little sister’s 11th month.

In other words, we’ve been working for a long time.

That bathroom I referenced above is now our laundry/bath combo below. It is the main bathroom of the house, with two sinks/vanities, linen closet, and full walk-in, tiled shower, along with stand-alone washer and dryer. There’s enough room for two, and there’s no scary step or hole to jump over! (However it is NOT easy to photograph). πŸ˜›

*This post may contain affiliate links in order to help keep this site running. Hosting ain’t cheap, ya’ll. πŸ˜‰ If you want to read some semi-boring stuff, see my disclosures. I only ever link to products I love and use for my family, and if you happen to love the products I recommend too, feel free to click away. Your cost won’t change, however Wholesome Housewife will receive a small % of the sale.*

As with every area of this house, there’s still a certain amount of finish work to do. (Baseboards, shower trim, re-grout 1/2 the floor tile because it was too dry when applied, the rest of the cabinet pulls, etc.) For the most part, though, it’s beautiful and fully functional.

I’ve never been so thankful for ‘fully functional’.

Note: we added a shelf above the washer and dryer for tons more beautiful storage space. I had been storing the laundry items (our favorite detergent, extra detergent (we buy in bulk you know), natural dryer sheets, iron, etc.) on top of the dryer and it was making me crazy. It was so overfull, stuff would fall into the washer. So much nicer now! I’ll share more pictures in follow-up reno posts.

House Renovation – Where We Are Now

Even though it’s been some 22 months since the above, we’re not quite finished. Most of the work left is on the outside for curb appeal. Anything left on the inside is finish work, nothing major like tearing down walls, major plumbing to put a bathroom somewhere it never was before, drywalling, etc.

This house has been down to the studs in EVERY room, sans the living room. New insulation, wiring, plumbing, repairs to all the crap workmanship. We had mold remediation to do from water damage under the entire kitchen floor and the first bedroom that we slept in for months before knowing (so THAT’S what that funny smell was…). Then there were walls removed, floors jacked up, new ceilings, new drywall and most lath and plaster removed.

The kitchen had to be gutted and not a single thing stayed. There wasn’t room for both a fridge and a stove when we moved in. Windows and doors – NONE had headers, load bearing or not. The lighting everywhere consisted of junk fixtures. (The bathroom metal framed light was hacked off to ‘fit’ next to the shower.) The dining room had a ridiculous drop ceiling that lost about a foot of heading (and can lighting) for no reason.

The floor-plan of the entire house, sans living room, was redrawn. Windows were taken out, windows were enlarged, a patio door was put in, 3rd bedroom and 2nd full bath with a tub/shower added. So. Much. Work.

So You Wanna Take On A House Renovation – Fair Warning

Would I ever recommend doing an entire house renovation? Sure!

IF: you’re qualified to do the work or know good people qualified to do it. For example, if you call a few rough pieces of plywood screwed together, with a hinge attaching another piece of rough plywood to the top to make a lid, a craftsman piece of workmanship, you might not want to take on a whole house renovation. πŸ˜‰

Actually, please don’t. We have several homes ‘renovated’ by people like that just in our area (and have seen many more online).

One, 10 minutes away from us, imploded on itself. Driving by on the way to church, there it was: roof, walls, siding, windows, shutters, etc. piled in the center of the house. They propped it all back up again, pieced together a truly, 100% crappy kitchen (outdated light oak cabinets that don’t fit, laminate counters that cut off in the middle of a cabinet, mismatched, ancient appliances, cheap fixtures), left the rest of it unfinished and now they think they can get over 200K for it. (They can’t. And after a year of being on the market, it’s now off the market, unsold.)

So, if you are truly handy, and care about the quality of what you build, you can create a custom, character house that reflects who you are by taking on this kind of project. Watch Chip and Joanna Gaines in ANY of their episodes of Fixer Upper (Magnolia). You can’t find homes like that in any old cookie cutter community.

However, full disclosure

I would never, ever want to (or recommend anyone to) live in a complete gut-job house renovation again with little ones. It added immense challenges to every area of our lives – parenting, marriage, church, faith, family, health and more. As with everything though, God has used it all for good and I’m so thankful for this charming little house we call ours for this time in our lives.

But most especially, I’m so thankful to be on this side of the experience!

Has your family done house renovations? Have you lived in a fixer upper? Hit me with your craziest and best experiences below! And stay tuned for follow-up, in depth posts (and pictures!) of each project! πŸ™‚

About the author

Tiffany H

Hi! I'm Tiffany, mama to the handsomest little boy and sweetest little girl, and wife to the best man ever. I love my Savior, being a housewife, mama and personal 'bakist' to the hubby, living naturally, and making real food taste yummy. I hope you enjoy this little glimpse into my crazy, happy life. Join me on the journey, let's get to know each other!

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  • Wow! Great article!
    This has been my life for the past 11months. Mind you, without the babies. Ours are in elementary and high school and finally know how to help out during our current remodel. We’ve done this before with newborns but it was always 1-2 rooms at a time, never a full house. Bless you and your family! We vowed, never again with newborns. I’d love to see the final pics. Heading now to check out your entire website. πŸ€—

    • Hi Flo! Yaaaaaaay for the extra hands to help with your remodel! How is it going?? What all are you doing to your house?

      I am in the very thick of it AGAIN, with our third fixer! After 3.5 months, I finally have the makings of a kitchen! It’s huge and will be gorgeous once it’s done, but for now I’m so enjoying putting dishes, pots and pans, utensils, etc. where they belong in brand new cabinets. Oh, and lavishing in the fact that I can actually bake again! πŸ˜‰ We’re on Instagram as Fixer Family, showing some of our progress (when I can remember to update it!) and someday there will be a website dedicated to all things reno. πŸ˜‰

      Hope your project is going smoothly!

  • Great article! I know there were times you weren’t sure you could get thru those months of renovations, but you are stronger than you think because the Lord gave you the strength to get thru it. It’s a beautiful house filled with love and decorated so nicely!

    • You’re so sweet, Kathy! <3 And He surely did! I look back on all these times - the house, the apartment reno, breastfeeding Little Man for 9.5 months of misery and I have no idea how I made it through. But then I remember how God provides grace enough for the moment you're in. And He surely did that! *Hugs*