Living on Site while Renovating the Kitchen
There are benefits living on site. I could:
- Monitor renovation progress
- I would usually ‘hide’ upstairs and go to the kitchen occasionally to check on renovation works. The workers would update me on the works they have done or any issues they face.
- Be available to make decisions
- My contractor gave me a lot of flexibility. He told the subcontractor… ‘Kalau nak tanya bahan atau bincang proses boleh tanya saya. Kalau nak pengukuran atau reka bentuk, tanya tuan rumah. Dia dah lukis pelan.’
- Translation: ‘You can ask me about materials or the renovation process. If it is regarding measurements or the house design, you can ask the house owner. She has drawn a plan.’
- They would shout from downstairs occasionally to let me decide on certain parts of the kitchen design or to ask me to do a final check before they leave.
- Point out any glaring mistakes
- Before it takes a bigger effort to rectify it
- Being on site to remind specific works required
- Save cost
- Renting another property during the renovation would increase cost
There are also downsides to it:
- ‘No Kitchen’
- Not being able to use a ‘proper’ kitchen.
- I also felt ‘grounded’ as I was the ‘house care taker’ during renovation works.
- Dust everywhere!
- The contractor used a wood and polyethylene cloth as a partition to lessen the dust everywhere which helped slightly. He also gave me plastic sheets to wrap some appliances before electrical first fix.
- The first phase was hacking and boy! It was noisy. Ear plugs was a necessity.
- Materials use up space
- For a couple of weeks, there was either a mountain of sand, bricks or stack of tiles at the porch area and piglet had to park his car elsewhere.
- Moving items to and fro
- Food items were stored in the guest room downstairs but were subsequently moved upstairs when electrical works started. The fridge was also moved twice.
Working hours was fixed (9am-5pm) and was regulated by the housing association. I had time after that to clean up and cook a late dinner.
Setting up a Temporary Kitchen
1. Necessities only
Necessities only are stored downstairs next to the kitchen.The spare containers, hand mixer, food processor and some food storage are stored in boxes upstairs.
2. Water supply
Temporary tap installed by plumber for cooking water in the dry kitchen (direct water supply).
3. Relying on appliances–
- Slow cooker- Slow boiled Cantonese soup.
- Oven toaster- ‘Roast’ chicken or ‘Roast’ tofu.
- Rice cooker- Rice or steaming heating up leftover rice.
- Induction cooker- Boiled drinking water, Stir fries, steam, boil or braise food.
- Microwave- Heating up food
4. Cooking area–
Appliances are placed on the floor which means lots of squatting and bending.
I do my stir fries at the porch using the induction cooker (better ventilation).
5. Storage space
Pots and containers are stored on the floor in the back room.
6. Prep space
Cutting my fruits and vegetables on the dining table.
7. Washing zone
The washing zone is in the bathroom (wet room). A foldable table is really useful since the sink is so small .
8. Kitchen trolley
It is more convenient moving food items from zone to zone. It also served as a condiments rack or drying rack.
9. Simple meals
Avoid cooking strong smelling food e.g. fish or food that requires extensive preparation.
- Leftover rice for congee
- Leftover eggplant dish microwaved
- Cucumber pickled with salt
- Fried egg and fried tofu
- Rice and Soup are leftovers from the day before.
- Cooked a quick lettuce stir fry, mushroom and carrot stir fry
- Two different cooking styles… His: Messy steamed egg with century egg. Hers: Fried egg with preserved radish
- The steamed egg was done in the rice cooker which was also used to reheat rice. Soup was reheated in the microwave.
10. Late dinners
The renovation finishes by 5pm. It takes 1-2 hours to sweep 1 round and mop 3 rounds. After that it would take 1-2 hours to prep dinner.
Some days we cheat and have takeaways.
It happens mostly when there is uncertainty on the renovation works done e.g. day 1 of starting hacking work or nature of the work done e.g. waste water drainage system being covered with concrete and will require at least 12 hours to dry.
I still prefer home cooked meals so I can fulfil my ‘5 a day’ and have a more plant based diet approach.