Any tips for preparing for demolition survival?

MizLizzieApril 4, 2013

After many months of planning and loads of invaluable help from G-Webers, it is almost time for our KC to show up with his sledgehammer. I'm going to move the fridge to the dining room, set up some wire shelves in the living room with basic cooking supplies, then slap a micro and a hotplate on the dining room table. Any tips for surviving this? What is that one overlooked thing everyone forgets to plan for? (My sister says to remember to lay out the ice cream scoop before boxing up!)

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IMO the hardest thing is water. Water for cleaning vegetables, water for cleaning your hands when prepping, water for cleaning dishes and cleaning up your temporary kitchen. Water is an extreme hassle. Mentally prepare yourself for this. It is so much more that washing dishes.
I took to buying lots of bags of pre-washed salad greens something I normally do not do. I shopped the salad bar at the grocery store for sliced peppers, mushrooms, onions, broccoli and cauliflower florets and shredded carrots.
To comment on your sister's advice, don't worry about the ice cream scoop- find the corkscrew.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 9:23AM
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Demo day is today, and I learned a little lesson last night. Look for smoke detectors near your temporary cooking set up and think about whether you need to disable it temporarily. Turns out there was one about two feet from my temp. setup of the Foreman grill and hotplate. I set it off making burgers on the Foreman grill yesterday....while standing about two feet from it. :P

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 9:33AM
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I plan to stock up on paper plates and plastic forks. And be extra nice to the neighbors, in case I desperately need a functional kitchen for something!

I also plan to move one old base cabinet into the dining room, for the micro, aforementioned paper plates, and other essentials. I'm hoping I can leave appliances in place after I pull out the cabinets (saving the sink for last); I can paint around them, and pull them out of the way when the electrician is here. Obviously everything will have to come out before the flooring goes in (we're tiling under everything). But that should minimize total down time.

We won't get our countertop for a few weeks after the base cabinets go in. My cabinet maker will cut pieces of particle board for me to use in the meantime, but I don't think I'll be able to put the sink in until the counters are in place. I'll at least be able to hook the dishwasher back up.

Best wishes to you, MizLizzie - please post pics, so we can suffer along with you!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 9:34AM
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Cook ahead meals that you can microwave and stock up on paper plates and plastic silverware.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 10:04AM
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beachlily z9a

My biggest thing was organizing the packing of boxes. One spare room got the stuff I would use during rebuild and one spare bedroom got the stuff that would go back into the cabs without being used during rebuild. I labeled EVERYTHING with what was in the box and it made restocking very, very easy.

Also, prep area is important. I have very little and had to use the guest bathroom as the water source. Just a pain.

Today the plumber is hooking up the sink, disposal, faucet and the dishdrawers. Happy day! Running water! Oh the stove is being installed too. Just don't have all my cabinets but I can live with that! The kitchen is back in working shape, just not done.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 10:39AM
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I'm watching this thread, we are about a month out from demo but I need to start mentally preparing NOW!

The temp kitchen will be a room next to the bathroom, and will have micro, coffee maker, toaster-oven, and probably a hot plate. So far I'm planning lots of paper plates/plastic utensils, prepared meals from the grocery store and frozen prepared meals. And the charity of friends to invite us to dinner. ;)

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 10:45AM
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Hang airtight tarps over EVERYTHING you don't want covered with dust

Move smoke and CO detectors out of the demolition area - the dust degrades their effectiveness.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 11:11AM
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For the first week I didn't want to even think about cooking. Instead we made sandwiches, but used really interesting breads, meats, and cheeses. It's amazing what some aged cheddar, capicola, romaine lettuce, or sourdough buns can do for a sandwich.

Paper plates are my friend. I'm using up all the random sized leftovers from holidays.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 11:15AM
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Tim Sutherland

Just remember the reno will go longer than planned.

No matter how much plastic is put up, and how careful the contractors are, dust will get into every nook and cranny of your house during the demo and dry-walling.

Do not plan on any gourmet meals made at home during the remodel.

Make full use of your outdoor kitchen (if you have one).

For your sanity, eat most of your evening meals out of the house.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 11:19AM
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My renovation is a bit different because we are also replacing all floors on the first level and also painting entire level. Here's what I've run into:

1. Make sure there's room in those other areas for the worker's "stuff"--tools, supplies, etc. They will spread out into your area!

2. Power--mine is a bit screwy, but they've turned off the power several times to my area where I cook--so no cooking when they are there (I was going to zap something in the microwave for lunch--nope).

3. There will be dust everywhere, learn to live/ignore it because it will continue until they are done.

4. This was the most unexpected: no refrigerator. Because I'm doing all the floors, they keep moving my fridge, so I had to clean it out and turn it off. Arghhh!! That was a last minute surprise. We have a tiny fridge that my DH used to have in his office--we are making due and I'm making lots of trips to store for small milk containers, small sizes of whatever we need.

5. I made ahead dinners (luckily I have a full freezer in basement). We have grilled out several times and I will just make a salad and something like baked beans that I can zap in the microwave.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 11:54AM
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Do not plan on any gourmet meals made at home during the remodel.

Oh, on the other hand, don't rule it out! ;-)

Of course, it helps to have had this:

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 1:47PM
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I actually feel as though I had a wonderful temporary kitchen, and I kept cooking all my regular from-scratch gluten-free menus throughout the renovation. I was lucky enough to get my old refrigerator installed in the basement next to the laundry sink, and my GC loaned me an electric oven (like Angie's in the photo above). Also, instead of boxing up the kitchen stuff and just keeping out the bare minimum I'd need, I boxed up all the infrequently used stuff from the basement shelves instead, and put everything that I use in the kitchen on those shelves -- so I didn't have to do without any gadget or small appliance or pot that I normally use. The worst was not having a counter to chop on, and I ended up splurging on a small counter height island from Ikea. It was highly functional and relatively convenient. Not so say that I'm not eager to get back into a real kitchen -- one with a working dishwasher and some daylight available.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 2:11PM
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Besides the corkscrew, make sure your gym membership or running shoes are in good shape. All that take out and pre-made foods really pack on the pounds. :)

Seriously, it gets really tough to make healthy, multi-course meals without a lot of effort. We are fortunate in that our laundry room has a full size sink, counter and shelving system. We moved in two smaller bookcases to hold the coffee maker, toaster oven, mw and induction hotplate. Four weeks in, it is really handy to have it all right there in the same room.

Don't forget plenty of big bowls, especially if you lack a sink. And a dish drainer...

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 2:18PM
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It looks like our reno will stretch for three or four months (if it still happens). It will involve messes in the basement, no kitchen at all and no good place to set up a temporary kitchen.

So, the plan is micowaved meals entirely. Frozen if we get the fridge up and working in the basement (which we'll need to leave the house to access anyway) or shelf stable if we can't. All paper plates and plastic cutlery. Did I say for four months?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 3:55PM
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As I think about it - in addition to the rice cooker (which we use a lot already), I'd better keep the crock pot available.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 4:10PM
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We are one week in and it isn't as bad as I thought it would be. Stay positive! I have my coffee pot, quesadilla maker, rice cooker and microwave out. We have grilled out and I froze some slow cooker things ahead of time. Had pizza one night, and have discovered hot pockets.
Water is a hassle, but I bought a little dish pan from the dollar store that I put the dirty stuff in to haul to the mudroom sink. I have the dish drainer set up on the dryer.
Our front room has become our "studio apartment". About time we used this room for more than holding the good couch!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 4:29PM
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Sherrie Moore

Ours starts in 2 weeks with a timeline of 4 to 5 months. Boy am I starting to worry. Weather should be better, so lots of outdoor cooking and dining. Small makeshift kitchen in the laundry room with microwave, breville oven, coffee maker, and at least a sink! Fridge will be set up in the sunroom. I am thinking a lot more meals out than I am used to!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 4:35PM
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Angie, the pictures are just too funny!

Everyone above has it right. But it's like being a parent: everyone can tell you all about it, but you can only experience it. Yes to all of the above. We planned on 3 weeks, it took 6. So far.

Beyond the day to day stuff, we had delays that strung it out that we had not properly prepared for. In our minds we were well planned and assume we could roll from one element to the next. Flooring; don't buy the day you plan to install. It has to acclimate for up to a week. Cabinet hardware: it took us 2 weeks to decide, then realized that no one in FL stocks what we wanted, you have to order, and you will need to cash in part of your 401K to do so. It's beautiful and they're proud. Counters took 2-1/2 weeks, and I am told we are blessed to get that. I complained loudly, but I have heard anywhere from 3-6 weeks minimum is what you should expect. Can't start until after the cabinets are in.

We are still only half way back to normal. This weekend will be a large push, as we have our pulls, stools, pendants, and Sav Blanc and Blue Moon in the beer fridge. The dust is everywhere, and I mean everywhere! Worse than the sand we got in our beach house in Galveston.

If we had any problems with the cabinets, flooring, electrical, plumbing, marble, MIL, we would have had some real problems. We are fortunate, and my DW is wonderful.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 4:56PM
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Good luck with demo! Ours was 4/2/12, so just about a year ago, and I have been looking at the photographs I took that whole week. The timeline was 4-6 months, and it took exactly 6, partly because instead of remodeling the addition that was already here, we had to tear it all down and pour a new foundation and build from scratch.

But it WILL get done. Happy demo!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 6:38PM
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MsLizzie - Ours wasn't as bad as I thought and it took longer than I expected.
A couple of thoughts - some listed above
-Prep and freeze meals
-Look for prepared but healthy options at stores - we were fortunate and have a great little store about a mile away that specializes in healthy meals - I bought quite a few and froze them.
-We used very little paper products - I kept one bowl, plate, glass, and a set of silverware(for each of us) - just washed them in the laundry room when we didn't have access to the DW. It is manageable if you don't get too many items to wash.
-Water - make sure you have a place to clean up dishes, etc
-Cooking - we had access to our old MW except for a couple of days. We had an induction side burner and a DeLonghi countertop convection oven, and one time even used our crock pot to make a pot roast to see us through.
-Refrigeration - our fridge was a re-use, but it lived in the DR until is was time to go home.
Here is a picture of our Zingerman Pot Pies in our oven -

Hang in there - it will be worth it in the end :-)

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 7:40PM
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I highly recommend a portable induction burner if you won't have a stove top available. WAAAY better than a hot plate. They can be had for about $60 online. Boils water for pasta in a jiffy and great for one-pot meals like stir fries, pasta, stovetop frittata, etc. We made do with this one portable burner, a MW and a toaster oven for 3 months. Cooked almost every night and it was fine.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 7:53PM
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Angie - love the lobster pictures and the shots of your temporary sink. What news of the potential move? Keep us posted, please.

mizlizzie - my favorite tip (which hasn't been cleaned up almost two years later since the bathroom will be one of the upcoming projects) was to swap out one of our bathroom sink faucets with a tall,cheap model. Note the faucet on the left is much taller than the one on the right. This way, you can wash dishes at the sink vs. killing your back kneeling by the tub.

I'm sure I found that tip on GW but can't remember from whom.

Best of luck! Take lots of pictures and keep us posted:)

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 8:01PM
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Angie - that is great - I think your gourmet lobsters must take the Blue Ribbon for cooking during reno!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 8:05PM
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Love the lobster dinner! We didn't have our kitchen for only 4 weeks I think. I ended up making meals on Sundays at my parent's house which was 15 min away. I bought a bunch of those steam in a bag veggies, which was great. We only needed our microwave and fridge for the duration. We used the toaster oven a few times in the morning for waffles. And it was in January and about 5 degrees out, so no grilling except for the night before the install started, I cooked up some chicken and steak for a few meals. I got grossed out washing dishes in the bathroom sink, so I stopped at my parents every few days to do the dishes. I was very lucky they live close by!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 8:26PM
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Wow, this is all so helpful! And a little daunting. I had NOT expected that much dust. Maybe we will escape it? Our reno doesn't involve flooring or -- hopefully -- much in the way of drywall. My KC says they will tape off everything with thick plastic, so fingers crossed.

We did do new countertops, sink and appliances about seven years ago so I have some hard-won experience washing dishes in the powder room! It is quite a trial. I bought my huge wire pantry shelves at the wholesale club so it will hold a lot. I have a lot of frozen soups and stews and bean dishes in the deep freezer ready to go. Still, I feel a few weeks' worth of Lean Cuisine coming on.

I did luck out and find some hardware I really liked at of all places. I will post pics on another thread. The hardware I truly loved was $14 for a 5" pull. The one from Overstock was $2.60. Heavy as solid brass. Hope it will hold up.

Keep those survival tips coming! This might make a great thread for the archives. ;-) Thank you all so much.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 8:46PM
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I'm lucky enough to have a great laundry room with a sink that made a great temp kitchen. I cooked almost every night. I had an electric frying pan, crock pot, rice cooker and a microwave. I tried to get by with a small dorm fridge but it didn't take long to realize that wasn't going to cute. I ended up renting a fridge and kept it in the garage. That was a life saver!

Have a great tip for packing up the kitchen that I learned here. I emptied out my linen closet and used that to store all of my china and as much of my kitchen items as I could get in there. So much easier to take out all the linens and dump them on the guest bed than it would have been to wrap and box up all that china and all those dishes. That was a HUGE help. Make packing up the kitchen so much easier.

Good luck and take tons of pictures!

When we bought this house, I was so thrilled with the laundry room and told my husband that it would make a great temp kitchen when we remodeled. And it did. It was a lifesaver.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 11:06PM
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Thanks a lot, Pooh Pup. ;-) Now I have to live with laundry room envy, too. Yowsa.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 9:29AM
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Haha...we made it a week and moved in with my mom for four months. I had a fantasy we would only be out only for a few weeks when we didn't have electricity or water.

In my defense, we did an addition and a whole house rewire. Our dog hates strangers and I work in sales from home. Clients, it turns out, have a short fuse for noise on conference calls.

It turns out we were whimps.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 9:58AM
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We started demo on Monday and so far my favorite things are the zipwall we put up and the disposable plates, silverware and cups. I have the microwave, toaster oven (which is also a convection oven), coffee maker in the LR. My husband made several meals that are in the freezer that we can just reheat to have home-cooked food 2x week, we have the grill for cooking 2x week and we plan to order out 2x week. That's the general idea. We have bought gallons of water for drinking. But this is for 3 weeks only.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 11:00AM
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Marcolo, why do you say "if it still happens"?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 1:02PM
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Thanks, all for the kind comments on the lobsters. They were a delicious New Year's dinner. Here is the awesome recipe: Sous Vide Lobster

OB2B, that is a genius move! High-arch faucet in bathroom should be a GW "must-do" for a kitchen reno.

I don't ever recall anyone else installing a DW in their temp. kitchen. I am still wondering why not? It really wasn't that hard, and it helped a lot. I tapped into the hot water from the line feeding the washing machine, so I could use garden-hose threads (and therefore no "real" plumbing needed to be done). And, of course, I already had an old DW!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 1:58PM
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we had a dishwasher installed in our basement utility room and it was a lifesaver. my daughter was still on bottles, so handwashing everything would have been a nightmare. if there is any way to do it, I would hightly recommend. it made staying on a "normal" home cooking regime much easier. we had a single induction burner which was awesome too. I also recommend grilling a lot if the weather is good. it spared us a lot of dishwashing.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 2:49PM
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We are taking our dishwasher out of our kitchen because we never use it and I want the space.... but, you have given me an idea. We will move the dishwasher to the basement and use it while our sink is out of commission. Thanks for the idea!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 4:19PM
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Donaleen, my Mom and Dad built a custom home in 1977. She couldn't afford a DW at the time (and had never had one, so didn't miss it), but her builder wired a cabinet for it, assuming she would change her mind. Today, still no DW - but we always refer to that cabinet as "where the dishwasher is going to go!" If she ever sells the house, I suspect we'll install a DW first.

I once lived in an apartment with abysmal kitchen storage, and my roommate and I used the DW for storage, and washed dishes by hand.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 5:41PM
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The necessities for me: Microwave, Water Cooler, Trader Joe's. In retrospect a Keurig coffee maker would have been nice.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 6:06PM
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I second the Keurig - and cases of water bottles stored in the garage. Not very "green" but it kept all of us happy - all including all the workers!
We have terrible allergies plus small children so to keep the dust out of the rest of the house (and the children out of the reno zone) we had the GC build a temporarily wall with a door and key. Totally worth it. And yes, the running water thing can be really grating depending on your setup. We had a tiny sink in our upstairs bath to use. So I cried tears of joy when my new faucet started running water!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 7:55PM
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Our kitchen, laundry room and downstairs bathroom were remodeled at the same time (no water on the first floor), so we put our old slap sink outside in the back of the house (with water hose right next to it). It was all happening during summer time - the weather was nice and warm - the crew used it to wash the paint brushes, hands, etc.

Poohpup, what a great tip on using laundry closet, maybe next time....

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 8:03PM
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Yes, I have a tip for the remodel period. New Amsterdam gin is less expensive than Beefeaters, and mixed with a little Noilly Prat dry vermouth makes a very nice martini. Shake on ice. Add a lemon peel. You will still have a fridge somewhere, right?

Also, tell everyone you know that you're doing this, and some portion of them will ask your family over for dinner. (thanks, sayde)

We found Boston Market to be affordable and healthier than usual fast food - lots of vegetable choices. Do you have one near you?

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 8:45PM
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We did a complete upper level remodel that was supposed to take 3 months but ended up just short of 6 months. We lived in our lower level during the remodel which was taped off with a plastic wall to minimize dust. We have a mini bar downstairs so had a microwave, panini press, keurig, crock pot, electric skillet and small bar sink. Like a2gemini I set aside a place setting of dishes per person which made it manageable for dish washing. Our remodel started late last March and finished in September. Everything went well, but just took longer than expected. We got weary at times because it does disrupt your life, but we were fortunate to have a wonderful team of subcontractors. We are really enjoying our "new" home and I can say it was truly worth it. Our contractor has entered our house in this year's Remodeled Home Tour in June! I hope all goes well for you. This forum is an incredible asset and helped me so much!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 9:51PM
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We remodeled our downstairs bar area with a bar fridge, kegerator, single dishdrawer (thank the heavens!), and a small sink.
I don't have a way to wash large bowls, but can take them up to the laundry room. We moved the old kitchen refrigerator downstairs, and moved the over range microwave onto the counter. My Breville Toaster oven is earning its chops, and I got a hot plate from Amazon for $45.
And if we run out of milk for breakfast, the dual tap kegerator is right there, with 10 gallons of micro brew....
We have it better than some, but we are also going to be out of the kitchen for a while, as those of you who have seen my kitchen stadium post would guess.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 11:03PM
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Still loving this thread! I had never wanted a Keurig but I'm seriously rethinking it. Ginny20, another of your great tips. LOL. And yes, we have a Boston Market. And loads of fab salad joints. Plus, l can live on Lean Cuisine, and often do when on a work deadline, which I will be in about . . . two weeks. Ugh. So from then until September, I won't have a day off or any time to cook. Should ease the frustration. Then retirement!!!!! And my wonderful new kitchen, with many thanks to GWers.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 8:27AM
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Here is my temporary scullery

Here is a link that might be useful: temporary scullery

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 2:41PM
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Demolition of our kitchen sink counter/cabinets was Monday. So, we are living without a kitchen sink for a few weeks. We are eating from scratch simple meals at home. The secret to clean up is we wipe all the food off the dishes with a small paper towel before washing the dishes in the bathroom or laundry sink. We did hookup the dishwasher in the basement but have not used it.

In only a few more weeks our twenty year kitchen project will be finished... well, maybe not the backsplash. That may take a little more time.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sink Wall cabinet project

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 11:12AM
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We started demo this week of our kitchen and family room.

The refrigerator and some of the old base cabinets have been moved into the dining room to make a temporary kitchen. We first put down some masonite to protect the carpet.

In our laundry room, we have a freestanding utility sink that will be removed and the old sink base cabinet, complete with the old sink and disposer, put in its place. We will at least have a sink for washing dishes, unlike our last kitchen reno where we only had a bathtub. We will plug in an extension cord to an outlet when we need to run the disposer. After the reno, that cabinet will get a new countertop and a drop in utility sink.

Unfortunately, we will be without our dishwasher for awhile. So, we will be using paper plates and plastic utensils. We will also be without our range. So, we will have to make do with a microwave, hot plate, crockpot, toaster oven, and BBQ grill for cooking. We might consider getting a portable induction cooktop.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 4:07PM
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We made a 2x4 stand for the sink. We only went two days without a sink at the beginning and two days without it during installation of the new cabinets. It wasn't pretty, but it was functional. Once cabinets were in, it was installed again while we wait for countertops. Peke

    Bookmark   May 18, 2013 at 8:25PM
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I 100% agree with a portable induction burner. They run 60-100 bucks and they are stronger than most non-professional gas stoves.

Also, a portable dishwasher is a lifesaver, as well as a deep sink. I bought a crappy $50 Home Depot utility sink, and it's worked great.

And a portable convection oven works wonders.

Finally, have someplace covered for all your food. It's amazing how dusty a home renovation is, even if your far away from it.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2013 at 8:45PM
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