Sometimes, creating the home you’ve always desired requires living like a nomad. While many people spend months plotting a renovation, down to the choice of bathroom faucet and finish of hardwood floors, fewer spend that sort of time thinking about where they’re going to live when the demolition crew arrives.
“It usually comes as an afterthought, once we start talking about the construction timeline,” said Lauren Rubin, a New York architect specializing in residential renovations. “A lot of people underestimate the amount of work they’re about to do, and how messy it’s going to get.”
While it’s possible to remain in your home during some renovation jobs, it simply isn’t feasible in many other cases. Walls may have to come down or be cut open, floors may have to be ripped out, and plumbing lines and electrical components may need to be replaced.
But in a city where standard rental leases are 12 months long, finding temporary accommodations for just a few months while your home is being pulled apart and rebuilt can be a challenge. There’s also the question of what to do with your belongings — if they must be removed from the home for construction, they’ll have to be packed and stored.
These costs can add up quickly, making an expensive renovation even more painful. But with a little research and good luck, it’s possible to find a home away from home that won’t come so dear that you are forced to scale back alterations or pitch a tent in the park.
The options vary, depending on your budget and your expectations. Extended-stay hotels and corporate furnished rentals offer well-appointed apartments by the month. Sublets can be found through personal networks or websites such as Leasebreak and Craigslist. Short-term rentals, from a few days to a few months, are offered by services like Airbnb and HomeAway.
When Joe and Carol Shaheen began planning the renovation of their two-bedroom co-op on East 57th Street in Manhattan earlier this year, they assumed they could continue living in the apartment, which they bought back in 1995. Dirt and disruption were not part of their thinking.
“We were so naïve,” said Mr. Shaheen, noting that the job, which will cost about $300,000, includes a new kitchen, refreshed bedrooms and dining room, the installation of a washer and a dryer, and refinishing the wood floors. “When our contractor talked to us about the reality of the situation, we realized we had to move out.”
They considered subletting a neighbor’s apartment in the building, and searched Craigslist and Airbnb, but weren’t able to find an arrangement that suited their needs.
That’s when they began focusing on extended-stay hotels, and learned the value of shopping around. Just a block away from their home was a one-bedroom suite at the Sutton Court on East 57th Street for about $6,000 per month. The quote they received for a similar room at another nearby extended-stay hotel was more than double that amount.
Read more: Home Renovation: Time for a Hotel?