How To Survive A Bathroom Renovation | 8 Tips To Save You Stress

It’s happening! You are finally getting the bathroom renovation done that you have been dreaming of for the past few years.

Now, you are faced with the reality of living without one of the most important rooms in your house for anywhere from a few days to a couple of months. How can you make this happen without getting totally stressed out?

In this post, I’m sharing some great actionable tips and suggestions that can take the sting out of living through a bathroom renovation.

Let’s get into it!

1. Picking The Right Time For A Bathroom Renovation

Your bathroom is one of the most important rooms in your home as your friends and family are in and out of it whenever they are home. You will want to time the renovation for when the water closet is in the least demand.  Some of the best times to tackle this job are:

  • During the School Year: The kids are out of the house while the crew is fixing it up, lowering the demand for use of the facilities.

  • Family Holidays: Eliminate the stress of the job by taking off for the beach while the bathroom is redone.

  • Kids off at Summer Camp: There are often a few weeks during the summer holidays where your kids are scheduled to stay with the grandparents or enrolled at a sleepaway camp. Now you are the only one being inconvenienced by the construction debris.

  • When the Neighbors are Away: Are you besties with the family next door? Would they let you use their home while they are out of town? They get a free housesitter and you can still enjoy a long hot shower in the morning.

Basically, if you can find a way to minimise the demand for your bathroom through smart scheduling, you should do it!

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2. Preparing The Space And Your Life For Demolition

Is the whole bathroom going under the wrecking ball? You are going to need to rearrange many of your towels, toiletries, and medicines normally stored in the bathroom.

  • Empty the Cabinets and Cupboards of Everything: Even if you are keeping the vanity or just replacing the door on the closet, anything in the room will get covered in dust and dirt if left in there during construction. Use plastic tubs to protect them from flying dust.

  • Move the Basics to the Second Bathroom: If you have another bathroom–even if it is only a cloakroom–plan to use it for getting ready in the morning. Set up extra shelves or a table to hold bins for each person so that you can all find your own bottle of moisturizer, razor, and toothbrush.

  • Single Bathroom Solutions: If this is the only bathroom in the house, you can use the kitchen sink for most washing needs. Rearrange the counter by the sink to accommodate your toothbrushes and face cloths.

  • Toiletry Options when the Water is Off: Consider checking out products such as dry shampoo that can help you get through a day or two without using the shower.

  • Shower Baskets for Life on the Move: The tub or shower may likely stay in place while the walls and floor are ripped out. Make yourself a bag to hold all your shower supplies so that you can grab them, enjoy a good wash, and clear out of the shower room again before the workers get back from lunch.

  • Do the Makeup in Your Bedroom: If you spend 20 minutes staring into the bathroom mirror every morning while you apply foundation and mascara, find a spot in your bedroom that can take over for a few weeks. You don’t need water for this morning ritual, just a small table and mirror.

Work being carried out during a bathroom renovation

3. Coping With The Dust, Dirt, And Noise

When you take down walls, there is going to be dust. If they smash the old porcelain tub, there will be dirt. Every hammer and saw is going to drown out the barking dog. Noise and clouds of dust are part and parcel of a bathroom renovation. How can you minimise the impact on you and your home?

Hang Plastic On Every Door

Seal the door to the bathroom, your lounge, the bedrooms, and the sunporch with a sheet of plastic. If you are hiring a contractor, you can make them responsible for doing this chore.

Your home improvement store actually sells plastic with slit doors cut into them for easier access for this purpose. The extra seal will help to contain dust and fumes.

Send The Workers Through The Back Garden

If your home has a kitchen entrance that connects to the bathroom hall, use that for all the comings and goings of the tradespeople.

You can have plastic sheets laid down on the floor that will grab the dirt from their shoes and any construction debris that they are removing from the house.

Open The Windows

Many of the paints, adhesives, and cleaning agents used during a bathroom renovation will come with fumes. If the job is being done during the warmer months, direct the crews to leave the windows open in the bath.

Close as many other windows in the home so that a draft is created that blows dust and smells directly outside.

Put The Dishes And Laundry Away

Reduce the amount of dust on your daily use items by actually putting clean clothes in the wardrobe. Leave the dishes in the dishwasher or put them in the cabinet.

If you wash it and then leave it out, your efforts will be wasted.

Invest In Noise Cancelling Headphones

If you work from home, there will be no escaping the bangs, crashes, and vibrations associated with a renovation. A set of noise-cancelling headphones can block out most of the rumbling.

Many of these sets come with Bluetooth-enabled microphones so that you can carry on a phone conversation while blocking out the sound of impact drills.

Failing that, some good earplugs can work wonders!

4. Building A Positive Relationship With The Work Crew

There is no doubt that if you get to know the workers at the corner coffee shop, they are more likely to add an extra swirl of whipped cream or tuck in a biscuit with your morning order. The same applies to tradespeople fixing up the bathroom in your home.

Get To Know The Team

There will be a head contractor and possibly a site supervisor. On the first day, introduce yourself, ask for their name and use it often. Say good morning and good night.

When something goes awry, they will be more likely to approach you with the news rather than try to hide an error.

Talk Schedules And Service Interruptions

Find out what they are specifically doing today. Will they need to shut off the water or the power to the house? Will it be off for an hour or all afternoon? Tell them what your requirements are and they may be able to adjust to help you get ready for a meeting.

Plan to wash the dishes and run the laundry at night when your use won’t impact construction. With good communication, they will be more likely to give you a heads up when they want to change the programme for the boiler.

Keep The Kettle Full

Not only is it important to keep the kettle full as you never know when the water will get turned off. Sharing a cup of tea with the crew when they have the time goes a long way in improving your relationship with the team.

They may be in your home for several weeks, so making a little room for their lunch boxes or bringing in a box of pastries once in a while may encourage them to take the extra time for a more perfect installation.

5. Removing The Toilet

This is the elephant in the room. What do you do when the toilet is ripped out? The great news is that if you only have one bathroom in the house, it is likely that your crew can work around it so that you are without the loo for just a day or two. However, you do have options.

  • Being a Good Neighbour: If you are often chatting with your next-door neighbour over a cup of tea, they may not mind letting you use their bathroom during the renovation. If they have ever undergone construction, they will likely say yes.

  • A Weekend by the Sea: There is no escaping that living without a toilet for even one day is a major inconvenience. Plan to take a short holiday while the crew is changing out the sanitaryware and skip all the frustration of the situation.

  • Renting a Porta Potty: Save your family’s sanity and place a portable toilet outside the kitchen door. You can have it scheduled to be serviced once a day or once a week. There are even heated versions available if this is a winter bathroom renovation.

Removing the toilet during a bathroom renovation

6. Replacing The Shower And Bath

This may actually be the biggest inconvenience associated with a bathroom renovation. While a toilet is often viewed as essential, your tub enclosure falls under the niceties of civilised living.

Take into consideration that there is the levelling of the floor, tile installation, new plumbing to run, and even lights to install, your shower can take several weeks between functional states. Plan ahead to reduce your level of disappointment.

  • A Sponge Bath is Refreshing:  A bucket of warm water, your favourite soap, soft cloth, and some towels on the floor are all that is necessary for a quick wash head to toe.

  • Knock on the Neighbour’s Door: If they let you borrow the loo, they will be happy to share the shower a few times a week.

  • Shower at the Office or the Gym: Many corporate office towers include shower facilities. If you are a member of a local gym, take advantage by stopping in after work for a shower. It may be worth signing up just for the shower!

  • Now is a Nice Time for a Cruise: Plan an extended family vacation–perhaps one with an oversized jetted tub!

Portable Bathrooms For Rent

Do you live out in the country with a nicely sized garden? There is such a thing as a complete portable bathroom.

Companies such as The Temporary Kitchen Company can provide everything you need for hire. It arrives as a flat-pack and can be carried through your home and assembled in the back garden. It has all the amenities including hot water, a stand-up shower, a vanity, and a toilet.

Keep in mind. This will significantly increase the cost of your bathroom renovation. It does, however, eliminate many of the hassles.

7. Supplying The Materials

Waiting on materials is the most common cause of delays during a bathroom renovation. If you are the one ordering in the sanitaryware, shopping for tiles, and ordering custom paint, make sure that delivery times work with the contractors’ schedules.

If possible, take delivery early and inspect fixtures for defects so you can have them addressed before the old toilet is in the skip.

8. Practising Patience Every Day

When the constant dust, noise, and the lack of a bathtub starts to grate on your nerves, take a deep breath. Go for a walk along the river. Now, think of all the reasons why you decided to install a new bathroom into your home.

When it is done you will have a design that belongs in this century, not your grandmother’s house. The hot water tap in the shower will work! The cracked grout will be a distant memory and you will finally be able to turn around without bumping your elbows.

It will happen! Just keep your eye on the prize, not the overflowing skip in your parking space.

Final Thoughts…

There you have it! Lots of real, actionable tips on surviving a bathroom renovation.

Will it be mess, stress and trouble-free? Probably not. Will it be worth it in the end? Definitely yes!

Use these bathroom renovation tips to help ease the pain and make living through the work that little bit easier.

All that’s left to say is – GOOD LUCK!


Michael R

Michael is a KBB designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom installations for over eight years now, and before that, he was an electrician and part of a KBB fitting team. He created The Bathroom Blueprint in early 2020.