Pros and Cons of Living in Your DIY Renovation

Skyleigh McCallum Kamloops Realtor and her husband stand in their renovation project home.

So, you’re thinking about taking on a home renovation project. 

And not only that, but you’re deciding whether or not you can live in your house while renovating it. 

It’s a very fair question to ask! Renovating a home yourself can be super rewarding, but it’s also a lot of work. And when you add in the idea of living in the home that you’re remodeling—well, there are a lot of things to consider. 

I know this from experience! To give you some background, we purchased a home in Kamloops, BC and decided to move in when we were just starting to renovate it. And when I say renovate, I mean RENOVATE. We’re talking about the entire house here. From gutting the bathroom and kitchen to putting up new drywall and finishings…it’s been a big project.

The house is finally becoming a home, and watching that happen feels pretty amazing!

Can you live in your house while renovating it?

The short answer is…it depends! 

We did it, and personally, I don’t regret it. I found that the pros outweigh the cons, and while it’s been quite the journey, I wouldn’t have done it differently.

Kamloops Realtor Skyleigh McCallum stands with her family in the doorway of a home they recently purchased, debating the pros and cons of living in your renovation.

That being said, several factors come into play when making this decision, and it’s important to consider your unique circumstances and the benefits and challenges of living in your reno.

Speaking of which, here are some pros and cons of living in your do-it-yourself renovation home, from my experience.

Benefits of living in your renovation

Here are some of the pros of living in your home while you remodel.

Extra time to work when the kids go to sleep. If you have younger kids like we do, the idea of living in your renovation might be especially intimidating. But actually, I found it to be a benefit! 

Since they’re probably going to bed earlier than you (hopefully, at least 😂), this gives you extra time to get work done in the evenings. If you lived outside of your reno, you would lose all those extra kid-free hours to get stuff done, because you’d probably be wherever the kiddos are sleeping. 

Consistently plugging away at tasks. Since you’re always there, you’ll keep tackling tasks throughout the day that you wouldn’t normally get done otherwise. Even if they’re just small accomplishments, they add up! In the end, this can help you get your renovation done faster. And that’s what we all want in the end!

A woman wearing blue jeans and a black sweater kneels to work on renovations in a Kamloops home.
We let our daughter draw on the walls since we knew we would be putting up new drywall!

Save on Capital Gains Tax. Since I’m a Kamloops REALTOR® and financial educator with WFG, this is the kind of stuff I always think about, too! This is especially relevant if you’re buying a home as a renovation project or to flip. Because you’re choosing to live in the home, you can sell it afterwards as a principal residence, which costs less in Capital Gains Tax. 

Saving money. Plain and simple! If you’re not living in the home you’re renovating, there’s a good chance you’re paying to live somewhere else. Whether that’s a second mortgage payment, rent, or hotel fees, it’s important to consider your budget.

Making memories. Hear me out here! Living in your renovation can be chaotic, but it can also create some pretty interesting stories. I definitely feel like this experience has helped me create memories with my kids. My daughter has been getting quite hands-on, always wanting to help out and having fun with all the projects. My son is a bit too young to remember, but we’ve made sure to snap lots of funny photos that we can all look back on together. 

And if your kids are a bit older and able to help out, they might just learn a few useful skills! 

Kamloops Realtor Skyleigh McCallum smiles while pulling wallpaper off with her family in their renovation project home.

Having your tools at home. Looking for a specific tool and then realizing that it’s at your other house…not fun! There’s definitely a benefit to not being scattered across two residences, and knowing that everything you need is there—even if it takes a bit of digging through the clutter to find it! 

No commute to work! If you live in your reno, you’re at “work” as soon as you wake up. While living in a renovation can feel a bit unsettling at times, having to to go back-and-forth constantly can be even more so. It’s less complex and saves time, which you can spend getting your project done sooner! 

Challenges of living in your renovation

Here are some of the cons of living in the home you’re renovating that you should consider.

Your house is a constant mess. There, I said it. The renovation itself can be pretty messy, and you’re so involved in doing renovation projects that your daily cleaning gets pushed to the wayside. 

It’s important to consider toxins, depending on the types of renovations and age of the home. Dust can also be an issue—especially if anyone in your household has respiratory issues like asthma—and it’s best to try to create a barrier around any especially dusty reno projects. 

The interior of a house where the family decided to live in the home while renovating it, with missing walls and dust on tools laying around.

Not everything has a place yet. Projects that involve decorating or organizing, like putting up shelves, are likely to be pushed to the bottom of the priority list because you have a shower you need to renovate first. Or you still need to paint that wall. You catch my drift. You’re not likely to feel completely settled at first, and you might need to get used to having a few boxes laying around. 

The constant shuffle of furniture and things. For example, we now have everything moved into the house, but we still have no baseboards. And all of our storage is downstairs because we haven’t finished the garage. We are always shuffling things around in order to finish projects as we go.

Renovation tools laying everywhere. When you’re working on your renovations every day, it feels pointless to put all your tools away every night just to take them out again the next morning. The downside is that your kitchen table might look more like a workbench.

A man bends over to grab tools while working on renovating the home he's living in.

It might put you behind, at first. This is another one that’s mostly relevant if you’ve just bought a home that you’re planning to renovate, and considering moving into. That’s what we did, and it ended up putting us about a month behind in progress because we had to spend time packing, moving, unpacking (what we could), and preparing our old house for sale.

It can be easy to get distracted. I always find myself wanting to clean the house instead of work a reno project. It’s easy to get distracted when you live in the midst of the chaos, but if you were to constantly clean up, then the projects would never get done.

A bathroom in mid-renovation, with tiles missing from the shower.

Some essentials might be unusable. Depending on what you’re renovating, some essential facilities might be unusable for a period of time—especially if you’re renovating the kitchen or bathroom. If that’s the case, be prepared to shower at a friend’s house and eat lots of takeout food! 

In the end, living in your reno-in-progress is up to you!

I hope you found this list of pros and cons of living in your DIY renovation helpful! In the end, you should choose whatever is best for you and your family. 

No matter which option you choose, you’re in for an adventure. And, not gonna lie, it’s an adventure that might have you wanting to pull your hair out at times! But if it’s something you really want and you’re prepared to do what it takes, it will be worth it in the end! 

Skyleigh McCallum, Kamloops Realtor and financial educator, standing in her recently purchased home while holding her son.

Follow along with the fun of our renovation project on my Instagram

If you’re interested in purchasing a home as a renovation project in Kamloops, let’s talk! As a Kamloops Realtor® with experience renovating and flipping homes, I would be happy to help you find the perfect property. 

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