Green Home Renovation Lessons Learned

It all began with the surprise announcement that we were spontaneously undertaking a large and expensive project within a time limited window of opportunity.  Two weeks ago I assumed it would be completely done by now. How wrong I was. Our recent green home renovation, repair and house painting scenario has caused us to pause and review an important life lesson.

Getting Started

We decluttered, cleaned out closets, bookcases, moved furniture, boxed all possessions, except for necessities, disconnected appliances and began.  The sun was shining and we were productive. Two days later two small areas were repaired and painted. They looked so good. We congratulated each other and went to bed smiling.

We woke up to rain …  pitter pattering rain drops, rat-tat-tating rain drops,  rivers of rain running through down spouts. Who wants to paint walls, hardwood floors, wooden doors, baseboards, trim and countertops when the doors and windows can’t be left open?  Relentless rain went on for days preventing us from doing the jobs we wanted to do in the timeframe we had to do them in. “Rain – rain – go away- come – again – another – day,” was our mantra.

During the brief sunny spots and we did get some minor home repair work done.  However,  some materials we ordered did not arrive — and some that did arrive were not as ordered — and so on.  Then, we were robbed.  Almost everything that could go wrong with our home repair, renovation and house painting project, went wrong and time ran out.

Green Home Renovation Lessons

It takes planning, know how and persistence to get a green home renovation, repair and house painting project done right and within budget and time constraints.

As Stephen King said “… there’s no harm in hoping for the best as long as you’re prepared for the worst.”

Here are some green home renovation lessons we learned the hard way:

1.  Do the research first. It’s important to know what’s available, where it’s located, how long delivery takes,  and how much it costs. Without that basic information you can’t make correct comparisons and you can’t make good decisions about ordering. Using new materials in your home renovation project is inevitable. While there are no hard and fast rules to selecting green materials, you should have a working knowledge of the basics.

  • Bamboo Floors: Bamboo is a renewable resource and it’s attractive flooring. It scratches easily so it’s not the best choice if you have high traffic household,  children or pets.
  • Cork Floors: Cork is also a renewable resource that’s comfortable to walk on. Most of the flooring panels click together without glue but for areas that need it you can use a low VOC and odor-free glue.
  • Hardwood Floors: You can opt for a water based finish instead of oil. We refinished hardwood floors in two homes with water based finishes and were pleased the result.
  • House paints: The wrong paint can compromise air quality indoors and release health hazards into the environment. There are green alternatives to regular interior house paints:  Zero-VOC paint;  clay paints and  milk paints.
  • Reusable building  materials: Be sure to check out all sources of used building materials for your renovation project and buy new only if you have to.

2.  Create an overall plan, a budget and a detailed time targeted schedule of events.  Include some “padding” to allow for unexpected events and unforeseen expenditures. Make adjustments as you go.

3.  Purchase any tools you need in advance so they are on hand when needed.

4.  Set material delivery dates a week before they are needed. This provides an opportunity to secure replacements if the wrong items are received or are unsuitable.

Green Home Renovation Reflections

When we reflected on the events of these last two weeks we recognized we didn’t learn anything we didn’t already know but chose to ignore. Our troubles arose from having high expectations for speedy success, without laying the foundations for it to manifest.

Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.  — Confucius

Looking into the future is like looking into a dark tunnel but remaining in the light of the “now moment” helps us get rid of a negative mindset.

 Know that everything is in perfect order whether you understand it or not.  ― Valery Satterwhite

Refresh and Renew

Our two-week window of opportunity for home repair, renovation and house painting has closed. Though living in a construction zone isn’t “normal” living, we have resumed living our normal life pattern as best we can. We’re refreshing and renewing our attitudes, while waiting for another opening to begin again.

Everyday this last month, when I felt like life was throwing rocks at me, I got up and told myself “Refresh”. I wanted to forget what upheaval I was into and just look forward. … All we need is a subtle shift in attitude and intention. A conscious decision to “refresh” can lead to a golden opportunity… Refresh Renew Rebirth


Do you have a home renovation story to share?