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Should you stay or should you go? Solving a classic renovation dilemma

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No one wants to live in the middle of a dusty, noisy construction zone, but then, no one who's shelling out for a renovation is dying to drop extra cash relocating while the work gets done, either. Another dilemma to add to the mix? While staying home for a reno gives you a chance to keep an eye on your contractor, some construction experts say the work will go much faster (and save you money) if crews aren't trying to tip toe around a family that's still in residence.

Whether you decide to stay or to go during your reno, Zillow rounded up some survival tips to make the process as painless—and affordable—as possible:

If you stay at home:

  • Create a safe space. "Have your contractor set up at least one sealed-off, construction-free zone" in the apartment, Zillow advises, that you can always count on as a potential retreat. Few things are as frustrating as feeling trapped (or unable to be alone) in your own home.
  • Set a schedule. Having rules about where the construction crew can be and when can work wonders for your peace of mind. It can also prevent unfortunate run-ins: as one interior designer tells the site, "nothing is worse than emerging from the shower to see a contractor on the roof through your skylight." Clean-up should also become part of the crew's daily routine, and aside from putting up the standard plastic barriers between rooms (and tidying equipment), ask them to use "portable scrubbers" to purify the air.
  • Do some packing. Even if you're staying put, you'll want to pack up and vacuum seal extra clothing and bedding to prevent contact with dust and debris, and to that same end, cover your air ducts with plastic to prevent any unwanted particles from circulating.

If you relocate:

  • Make a plan. Aside from price and size, you'll need to consider how your temporary digs will affect your day-to-day, from the commute to subscriptions and mail forwarding. Also decide in advance what to do about your cable, Internet, and landline service.
  • Don't be a stranger. If you're not actually living in your home to keep tabs on your project's progress, you'll want to pay frequent visits, both during the workday (to check in with the crew and contractor) and after hours (to double check that the place has been locked up correctly). Also, make sure that you're easily reachable at all hours so that if a question about the project pops up, you and your contractor can get things figured out right away, rather than letting work grind to a halt.

Related:

How to get the best contractor bids for your apartment reno

​Renovating a co-op? How to get your plans past the board

In the market for a fixer-upper? 4 must-dos before making an offer

9 things I learned from my two-year DIY renovation

5 all-too-common renovation shortcuts--and how to spot the serious ones (sponsored)

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