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Living Through A Renovation

We stayed on one floor of the East Boston project house while the crew tore up the other two. Here's how we survived.

<p>Cabinet installers at work in Chris's kitchen.</p>

Cabinet installers at work in Chris's kitchen.

Photo by Anthony Tieuli

For seven months we lived through a renovation—literally, as we stayed on one floor while the crew tore up the other two. Our experience taught us a lot about how to make it through a whole house project with our sanity intact (more or less). It's wisdom we're happy to share.

1. You will always go over budget, so prepare. Set aside a "just in case" fund.

2. Even without a kitchen, you will not lose weight. Especially when you're living on chips and salsa. Hit the gym often—it will also help you de-stress.

3. There's no escaping the dust. Keep painters' masks handy, and put as much of your stuff as you can in storage, to avoid dust-covered clothing, shoes, etc.

4. Get a "Do Not Disturb" sign for your bedroom to avoid awkward run-ins with the crew. Take out the Velcro hair rollers and brush your teeth before anyone arrives.

5. Be part of the process, not apart from it. Seeing the daily transformation and knowing the path from start to finish is very rewarding. Ask the contractors "What's going on? What's next?" Being involved also means you're in on every decision along the way.

6. Be nice to your friends, family, and neighbors. They feed you.

7. Laugh. Otherwise, you'll cry.

8. Finally, be appreciative. You may be paying, but someone else is doing the work. If the crew feels valued, they'll gladly work hard.