Late 2018, my partner and I took on a complete renovation of our 2 story 1952 city centre apartment in Rotterdam. Blissfully unaware of the journey that lay ahead, we excitedly packed up our lives and temporarily moved into a Caravan for 3 months, while the significant demo work began.
4 months to completely renovate an apartment - yeah, right!
Builders took over, and we watched the slow progress over Christmas and New Year as walls came down, structural beams came in, and ceilings disappeared and reappeared.
It was apparent that the deadline would come and go, but regardless of the state of the apartment, we needed to move back in on time, due to money constraints.
on the 17 March, we moved back into a freezing, dark and damp apartment with no water, no electricity, no floors, and only the upstairs plaster work complete.
5 days later, I discovered I was pregnant.
There was so much to do, and the process even though we had contractors and an architect for the project, was still overwhelmingly stressful.
As a UK Expat living in the Netherlands, the Dutch language is still a work in progress. Not being able to communicate with my contractor in English was testing, but throughout the process, my dutch vocabulary has undoubtedly improved, I now know how to talk about all things construction.
I relied a lot on my partner to relay messages, and we soon discovered we had a very different approach to getting things done.
If you're about to undertake renovations while pregnant, here are my top tips to get you through.
Top tips to get you through renovations while pregnant
#1 Don't expect a miracle
These types of projects always overrun and take longer than you think, be prepared for that, and build in extra time. I was still convinced 3 days before we moved back into our shell of an apartment, some overnight miracle would occur. They don't!
From start to finish our renovation with all the planning has taken nearly 12 months!
#2 Minimise the stress
Easier said than done, but you must focus on the end goal.
So many times, I caught myself building up to a blind rage, especially when mirrors were installed so high up on a wall I could only see my eyebrows, or when the kitchen company arrived, and they discovered they'd measure things wrong, and they installed a damaged stovetop. Or when the floor installation company came to deliver the floor but refused to bring it upstairs so dumped it in the street, or when the carpenters told us the bespoke cabinet would be installed in 2 days, 4 months later - it's still not finished.
I had to learn, to let some things go, breath and laugh because most of it was out of my control, and losing my shit was not helping my pregnancy.
#3 Don't even think about lifting it
So many times, I just wanted to roll up my sleeves and move the damn thing myself. In the beginning, this was so tempting, as I got bigger, there was no way. Just don't even think about it!
#4 Take some you time
I really wish someone had told me this, during the midst of all the renovations, I was so focused on doing the smaller things that I could do I spent half the time walking around covered in paint and plaster, but when I took the time to pamper myself, boy did it feel good.
Living on a building site isn't fun, so take time out from it, regularly.
#5 Don't stress about cleaning
I was cleaning like a madwoman, only to discover the next day the builders had come in, walked all over my bed in their boots to paint a spot on the ceiling, or decided to re-plaster something and not covered the furniture.
Do the minimal, because until all the builders have gone, it isn't going to get or stay clean.
#6 Avoid the demo
While the significant demolition work is happening, stay away and avoid the dust and dirt. In older homes, be aware of the risks of asbestos and lead paint.
If you're keen like me to do something, and painting seems like the most comfortable thing, make sure you ventilate properly, and stay away from ladders, your centre of gravity is changing!
#8 Make lists
Baby brain is a real struggle. Lists will help you feel less stressed and help you keep on top of what needs to be done.
#9 End goal
It will come to an end, and it will be worth it, you have to keep telling yourself that, it was the thing that got me through, and don't forget all this will be worth it when you have a beautiful home all ready for your new baby.
Want to see my full apartment renovation?