This is a calculation best done in concert with your contractor and with a heavy dose of reality. If you've never visited a house undergoing a remodel, now is the time to do just that so you can get a clear idea of how much of your home will be affected by what you have planned.
2. Purpose. The type of project can immediately answer the stay-or-go question. If your roof is coming off for a second story or your house is being raised up, you will likely want to move out. These kinds of renovations make it impossible to heat or cool a home effectively and generally involve cutting off plumbing service, electricity, heating and air conditioning. If you know that a very large blue tarp will be part of the plan, consider that your invitation to an alternate dwelling.
3. Scope. Work that includes more than half of your home or that affects all of your bathrooms and kitchen will pretty much rule out staying in the home as well. Most families can get by without a kitchen, but having no bathroom means nowhere to clean dishes or yourselves. And a single room to sleep in does not a home make.
4. Pets. The key with pets is keeping them away from the part of your home that's under construction. Temporary doors and ZipWalls can help, but sometimes the incessant noise and activity can be disturbing to cats and dogs even if they are physically separated from the work area. Contractors are just as worried about your pets as you are, but you should know their limits. Some contractors actually ask for special contract clauses stating that they will not be responsible for the pets in the event that they escape.
5. Kids. Children are often fascinated by the work going on. But if you spend a lot of time engaging carpenters in talk with your kids, costs will add up quickly. Also, workers at your home cannot be asked to stop making noise at nap time (remember, you are paying them hourly), so if you have a young child, you need to find an alternate place to nap or bite the bullet and get a rental.
6. Cooking. A temporary kitchen can be just the thing to get you through a kitchen remodel. A hot plate, microwave and toaster oven are great for makeshift food production. Preparing and freezing meals ahead is very effective, provided that the remodel scope allows you to keep a freezer on. But making four to six months' worth of meals can be daunting. Homeowner Jennifer Bartlett made and froze food for two months before the remodel so she wouldn't have to eat out every night. This required purchasing a new freezer, but it was a solution she was happy with during her kitchen remodel and home office addition.
Hire a cleaning service to maintain your sanity
8. Sheetrock. It's possible to strike a happy medium by staying away from demolition until the Sheetrock phase and then moving back in. By waiting until the Sheetrock is complete, you avoid the messiest, dustiest and noisiest portions of the project. This usually happens two-thirds of the way through a project, and that translates to a possible one-third savings on a rental. But your place will still not be move-in ready.
9. Having to go even if you stay. Some remodeling work requires zero occupancy even if you are able to stay for most of the project. Finishing hardwood floors generally means staying away for at least a day on at least two separate occasions while the fumes dissipate, for example. So even if you camp out at home during most of the construction, know that you may need to leave during certains times anyway.
10. Peace of mind. If you stay, you can be assured that you will be intimately aware of the state of your home. Going away has its benefits too. Homeowner Peter Langmaid's whole-house remodel was completed earlier this year, and he stands by his decision to leave. "My advice for major remodels: Budget for a rental -- it's less painful if it doesn't feel like an additional expense -- and leave," he says. "The remodel will occupy plenty of your time; no need to wallow in the day-to-day action."
Tell us: Do you have advice on whether to stay or go? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.