We always recommend clients move out of their apartments when they renovate. The contractor will be able to finish the job faster and the clients will be happier not living in a construction site.
But sometimes it just isn’t feasible (or anywhere near affordable).
Here are four projects that allow you to stay put -- some easily, and some a bit less so.
Kitchen... if you don't mind takeout
You can live in your apartment while you renovate your kitchen as long as you don’t mind eating takeout for the duration of the project -- which can take 8-10 weeks (for custom cabinets and counters). Make sure your contractor financially guarantees his schedule or you might find yourself pretty sick of Chinese food.
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Another option is to set up a (no-frills) temporary kitchen in your living room with just a fridge and a microwave.
Bathroom... especially if there's another
For virtually everyone, gutting your only bathroom and staying in the apartment isn't feasible even if you do have a membership at a nearby gym. But if you are only replacing your shower or tub, the gym or friendly neighbor might be enough during the couple of weeks your shower or tub will be out of commission.
Painting... as long as you prep for dust
Low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) paints have made it possible to live in newly painted areas. Bear in mind that any good painting job requires some patching, which will create large amounts of dust. Make sure your contractor uses zip walls (barrier systems used to contain dust from floor to ceiling) to isolate areas while they are being painted, and you'll (almost) never know.
Combining (certain) apartments
If you are combining adjacent apartments, you can renovate the new apartment while you live in the old one and as a last step, take down the wall between the units. Bear in mind that once the wall is down your floors will need to be refinished, and you'll have to vacate at least part, if not all, of your original apartment at that point.
If you are creating a duplex, staying in the apartment while the work takes places is more challenging. Creating the opening for the stairs and installing them generally takes a lot longer than removing a demising wall, so you will have to move out when that part of the job takes place.
Yoel Borgenicht is the president of King Rose Construction, specializing in residential and commercial renovations in the New York City metro area.