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?


  1. tt, I admire your positive attitude in the face of all these unexpected obstacles. It seems that in this case Murphy’s Law was in full operation. In spite of it, the renovations will all eventually get done and in the meanwhile I know I can count on you to enjoy your life and summer to the full.

    • Hi Marty,
      We are now taking it a day at a time now. Everything we need is on hand or readlity available. If the weather cooperates and my husband is home we proceed. If not we go back to our usual work. :)

  2. This is so timely! We are planning major ‘green’ works in the Fall. We’ve delayed so we can put more timing into the planning and research. This is perfect advice for us. Thanks you.

    • Hi Sandra,
      It’s good to hear my post is timely. Time spent research and planning is a good investment. I’ve been thinking that I could write a comedy post about this, if I had a sense of humor about it. At this point in time, I don’t but all things are subject to change. :) (I was chuckling when I typed that.) Renovations are stressful but there are some interesting opportunities. I do plan to write about them — when it’s all over.

  3. As far as home renovations… beware the combination of open windows and neighbour’s pets! I was thrilled and proud when I had re-painted room and had a new carpet laid, and left the windows open on a beautiful day to air it all out… shame the neighbour’s tom cat chose to stroll across the roof and in the window and spray… despite having the carpet professionally steam cleaned within 24 hours, that autumn when the heat came on the unbearable stink returned – and in the end the only solution was to tear out the carpet and start over.

    Actually, what has really hit me from this story is the quote “Know that everything is in perfect order whether you understand it or not.” As you comment in reference to your works, this is nothing I don’t usually know, only I let slip from my mind recently. Thank you for the reminder. And best of luck on the rest of the work and living in it and through it!

    • Good grief! That’s a terrible painting story. There’s no way any cat could ever get by my 3 dogs so that’s one thing I won’t have to worry about. Our house is not small and we are woking on this in fits and starts whenever hubby is home and the weather cooperates. Thanks for the well wishes. It will be lovely in the end I’m sure.

    • Hi there,
      I’m happy to hear that. We’ve built two homes and our marriage survived both times. This home needs some more renovating and as soon as the summer actually arrives we will be at it again.

  4. So are you done this stage for home reno’s? Or how much more work do you have pretty soon?

    Hope things are such that you 2 can bliss out for a day and enjoy the visible good stuff.

    • We have most of the house left to paint and some more repair and maintenance stuff to do. It looks like we may not be done until month end or even beyond. My hubby has more travel ahead so he can’t be here painting. I’m resigned to this now. The sun is shining (finally). I’m going to be spending more time outside than inside — hooray!

  5. Looks like a lot of work to do this renovation. Not that you’re done, are you planning to help other homeowners through their green home makeover:) I can see a green makeover reality show:)

    • Hi Vishnu,
      Your “green makeover reality show” comment made me laugh. We are nowhere near done and will probably be at this for a couple of months more. The sense of urgency is gone for us. My husband is back to his normal work life and we have to work around that by repairing, renovating and painting on his days off. We also have be fair weather painters too.

Please leave your comment here as I treasure every one I receive.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s