Feb. 15 2024

"Can I travel and remodel at the same time?" Timing a home renovation in your life

by Haley Carroll

Planning a remodel is a thrilling milestone – you’ll be making solid steps toward your dream Seattle home. However, the rest of your life doesn’t stop just because you’ve taken on a large project. With the renovation process typically spanning multiple months, you’ll inevitably become a master juggler.

More than likely, one thing or another will call you out of town during this time. Maybe it’s for work, or maybe it’s the few short weeks in summer where Alaska is habitable – the exact reason will be different for everyone.

When you find yourself needing to pack your bags, you may wonder if you should pull the plug on your remodeling project. Though that may be tempting amidst the chaos, it might not be the best idea to come back from your expedition in the Australian outback to a dismantled bathroom with no toilet.

If you want to avoid this plumbing predicament, you can plan for these situations ahead of time. When you structure your remodel to account for it and set up the right communication channels, travel is possible – and you might even find yourself relaxing during the trip!

Travelling and remodeling at the same time – can it be done?

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How well travel will fit into your project depends on the type of renovation you’re doing - certain methods can have some negative consequences that will make your project more expensive and take longer than expected. 

Spoiler alert: Working with a design-build firm is much more compatible with travel and a busy life schedule over other remodeling methods - more on that below. 

Click on your remodeling method below to jump to how it stands up to travel interferences or keep scrolling to learn about them all.

What renovation method is best for travelling?

Best: Working with a Design-Build firm
Fair: Working with an architect, designer, and general contractor
Poor: DIY remodels 

If you’ve partnered with a design-build firm . . .

This method is extremely compatible with travel and other life commitments that may demand your attention. 

When you choose to remodel with a design-build firm, you’ll have a single unified team managing the project end-to-end. This takes the responsibility of the renovation off your plate, placing you in the role of “key stakeholder” rather than project manager. Communications will be streamlined to you, so you won't have to act as the mediator or interpret confusing industry jargon to update other parties. 

With a design-build firm, the remodeling process will be completed in 3 major phases: Design, Plan, and Build. You'll have a clear, structured timeline to easily decipher when decisions are due, so you can accommodate those dates well in advance into your travel itinerary. Since all decisions are made in the Design and Plan stage, this leaves virtually nothing for you to do once construction actually kicks off in the Build stage. The firm handles all logistical details, so you can take a step back – and step away if you need to. Perhaps, stepping away into a sauna at a tropical resort . . .

Even better, the Plan stage tackles all potential roadblocks ahead of time, so there will be no surprise costs or time-consuming setbacks during construction. If problems do occur, they are solved more efficiently since all team members work under the same roof. This added layer of assurance means you can travel to sunnier destinations with a clearer mind. 

Pro Tip

A Fixed Price Build Agreement (FPBA) is unique to design-build firms and locks in the price of your remodel before construction begins. With other remodeling methods, surprise costs are common and final bills can vary wildly from orginal quotes. 

 

See also: Understanding the Pros and Cons of the Different Remodeling Approaches

If you’ve hired an architect, designer, and general contractor . . .

It’s possible, but it could get a little hairy.

Since you have multiple parties involved in the project, it will require greater coordination on your part to ensure things stay on track while you’re gone. Create a plan for what needs to happen while you’re away and set things up so that everyone has what they need in advance: connecting parties to one another, sending along decisions and “next steps” ahead of time, and so on.

Even the most careful preparation may not prevent things from going awry in your absence. The general contractor, architect, and designer all have limited stakes in the project, leaving you with the bulk of the responsibility.

The overall project management will leave the premises when you step away, which creates room for things to be done incorrectly, costly bottlenecks to occur, and decisions to be made that aren’t to your liking.

If you need to travel with this kind of renovation, do your best to maintain an open line of communication when you can’t physically be there. Being able to take a call and clear up confusion or have a quick video meeting to make a design decision will help your assembled team stay on track until you’re back.

Pro Tip

Pay schedules can get complicated in this type of remodeling process. Figure out what payments will be due while you're gone and schedule the transfers in advance to prevent late fees, a halt in work, or angry subcontractors.

 

If you’re doing a DIY remodel . . .

It will be quite difficult – as if DIY renovations aren’t hard enough.

Since you’ll be the only one doing the work, any time you’re away from the site means the project will stall. With the time it’ll take to pack and readjust upon your return on top of the days you’ll be away, travelling can quickly create major gaps in your renovation timeline.

Even if your trip is relatively short, you also risk losing your momentum in the project. Once you’ve stepped away from the remodel one time, it will be easier to find reasons to put it aside again. So much so that you may see your renovation suspended completely.

If you’re absolutely determined to redo your kitchen and eat your way through Italy too, then double up the amount of grit you bring to the project. . . and you should probably double your expected timeline for the renovation as well.

See also: All the Remodeling Terms and Definitions You Need to Know

How taking a trip during your remodel can be a GOOD thing

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A home renovation can be extremely disruptive for you and your family. Although the result will elevate your everyday life, getting there is a long road.

Taking a vacation during your remodel would allow you to escape the turmoil and spend time unwinding, recharging, and focusing on the things you love to do.

Not only is dealing with construction noise, debris, and workers in your home a hassle for you, it can also impede those who are getting the job done. When a family stays on site for a remodel, workers need to spend time securing the site every day to make sure there are no safety concerns for the residents. Stepping away, even for a short period, would allow them to focus solely on getting their work done.

If mess, upheaval, and noise stress you out or make you lose sleep, your health would certainly benefit from a break.

See also: Comprehensive Guide to Kitchen Remodels: Expert Team FAQ

How to travel and remodel at the same time

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No matter how you’ve elected to do your remodel, if you’ve got a flight to catch, here’s what you can do:

  • Choose a team of people that you TRUST with your home, in the work they’ll do on it and the decisions they’ll make. Scrupulously read reviews, and vet them as much as possible so you have full confidence they’ll care for your home as carefully as you do.
  • Create a plan, as well as a contingency plan. Set clear expectations about what should be done while you’re gone and discuss any “at risk” project components before you leave. Plan for a few different likely scenarios that may occur while you’re out of town.
  • Keep an open line of communication if possible. While you may have limited availability for calls and emails, let your team know when and how they can best reach you. This guidance will clear up confusion for your team, and help you stay as informed as you need to be.
  • Set up a power of attorney. If you will be unavailable for a substantial amount of time, placing temporary control of your property and finances with a trusted individual in your life can be a great layer of insurance. This is most relevant for situations where you've hired outsiders to do work in your home, but you do not have a firm or someone else overseeing the project. 
  • Take a deep breath and be where your feet are. You can’t always control what comes up during a remodel – whether you’re ten feet away or on another continent. Try to be present in your current physical location and remember this process will lead to a home you love.

Ready to partner with a dedicated team for your remodel?

Remodeling is hard to fit into a busy life, but the team at Innovative Home Renovations is here to help you design and build a space that helps you thrive. Our in-house interior designer and expert builders will take the stress off your shoulders and allow you to bring your dream home to life. Contact a project manager to get started (and then start planning your next vacation).

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