Living through household renovations is exciting, a massive challenge and also very hard work. The final finished product will be amazing, but by the time it is finished I think I will just want to have a massive clean up and curl up in a ball and sleep! It’s soul destroying for a number of reasons… mainly the amount of dust and the fact both me and my husband have a dust allergy!
Being allergic to dust makes renovations a minefield. You cannot escape the dust, and this isn’t just any old grey, skin cell kind of dust, this is thick layers of a kind of sticky, clammy, gritty dust that manages to get EVERYWHERE! There are things you can do to stop the spread like tapeing up doors and keeping main doors closed as much as possible, but it’s hard. You need access to be able to move around the house, and unless you want to keep all windows firmly shut during a heat wave the dust also rises up in the wind and blows into the upstairs rooms anyway! The best solution I’ve found is firstly, not to wear my glasses and never to look too closely, I’m joking, a bit… but mainly to use water. DON’T get a broom and sweep before first damping down the area, this stops the dust getting agitated and billowing up into the air, ready to settle on other surfaces, rather than the floor. What is it about builders and the incessant need to sweep up dust? I suppose I’d be cross if they just left a great mess too, but damping down first makes a massive difference. We told them not to keep cleaning up each evening as this seemed to make it more dusty. Instead we cleaned where and when we needed to in our own time and they just got on with the job.
I am very much looking forward to forgetting the sensation of putting down a pan and hearing that gritty grinding noise that means the carefully cleaned surface is still harbouring dust. Or that moment when you look down at your cup of coffee to see a film of dust floating on top, but you can’t be bothered to make another because you’re so exhausted. I’m telling myself it’s just chalk from the kettle, but I know it’s dust, and that it’s probably not good for me, but I’ve inhaled so much of it what can a few more particles do? Dust in the kettle, dust in the toaster, dust in the cupboards and drawers…
Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning…
I am not a lover of housework. I have inherited this trait from my mother, who drilled it into me from an early age. It has to be raining and blowing a gale for me to get down to serious housework, or the threat of an important guest arriving iminently and being shocked by my slovenlyness – then the house gets whipped into shape. I do keep the dust levels down due to having asthma and an allergy to dust, but I’ve got that down to a fine art. THIS building mess cleaning is just soul destroying, and a complete waste of time since the following day, more will come along to replace the dust you hoovered up. However, it’s not easy to cook a meal unless you have cleaned up. So before I can make a cup of tea, I find myself scrubbing the dust off the kettle and swilling it out. Before I can make a meal I have to clean the tiny surface (the top of the fridge) which we have to prepare food, and moments later it still looks like a swirling pattern of dust on the surface. You almost need to sluice any surface down a few times, and the dust keeps settling. I am probably exagerating here, but only a bit.
Our builders and plasterers are up with the larks. They arrive between 7.30 to 8am, now I can hear you saying, “but that’s good isn’t it?” Well, yes, it’s great, and progress is being made because they work hard and are all doing a fantastic job, but I’m NOT an early riser. So unless I am content to be making my breakfast in my dressing gown with a house full of strapping men hard at work, dust swirling, then I too have to get up extra early. When you are not naturally an early riser this is a killer. However I have always yearned to actually BE an early riser so I’m trying to embrace this new habit with gusto… and it does mean I’m at my desk and working a good hour earlier at least.
Itchy and scratchy
The dirt and dust is incessant. With the recent warm weather, the sandles came out, but they quickly became contaminated with ‘the dust’ from the floor which made my feet really itchy. It’s obvious how to avoid some contact, ie. don’t touch really dirty surfaces, use dust sheets to protect some areas, (but I find these, by their very nature, deposit and contain just as much dust as the air!) and wash your hands as much as possible when you have touched dirty surfaces. Impossible not to come into contact with some though, and I’ve been wheezing and itching A LOT! I don’t have many tips for avoiding this but here are a few: stay covered up, put any dusty clothes straight in the wash, have a quick shower if you’re feeling particularly itchy, wear gloves while clearing up and try to keep the bedroom a no go area. Don’t wear your outdoor shoes or clothes in there and keep the doors and windows closed as much as possible. Despite doing all this though I’m still feeling itchy. 🙁
Desparate times called for desparate measures. When the walls came down the dust levels would have been just too much for my poor asthmatic lungs so I moved out, to my Dad’s house for a week or two and a very kind friend who put me up until the worst of the dust settled. If you do have somewhere you can bolt to and you don’t need to be on site too regularly plan a holiday or stay with family or friends will really dusty jobs are going on. The job is so much easier to the builders if the client is not using the house and ours were so accommodating. They even left the cooker working though it had to be moved around on a daily basis and the the sink was left plumbed in, albeit stranded in the middle of room so the could work around it. Not ideal but when you have food allergies you can’t just eat out every night, get take-aways or microwave meals. So I moved out, which was bliss, but then I had to move back in, which was back to the dust.
If you’re living through this too, or planning to embark on a renovation or building project whilst living in the house at the same time, try not to let it get you down. Move out for a bit if you can, but for a long project that may not be feasible, and it’s actually great to see the project taking shape, and to understand the processes involved. Get out for a walk, a jog, or visit a friend for lunch. Arrange to visit friends in the evenings and don’t think of the bank balance or the waistline when you find yourself eating out AGAIN! I have also done some research into healthy snack foods which provide a meal with minimal effort so more on that soon.
I am mostly looking forward to, walking around on clean, clear, smooth floors in bare feet…