Finding a rental while remodeling and advice

We're doing remodel work on our home, just enough to require or at least prefer a move out. We don't know when the work will be done and how long it will take - we're estimating starting later this year after permits and it may take 3-6 months. We're close to getting contractor bids. 

If you have done this, what are the ways in which we should be researching and identifying 3-6 month rentals while we move out? Is it possible to rent a full house? Should we look at one of the new apartment buildings? Other options of types or sourcing methods?

We're in North Berkeley and I don't want to be too far from our house because I plan to check in on it daily. And ideally our son can bike to his mountain biking club practices. We have a family of four with kids. I work from home (may take the Transbay bus in to SF later this year) - the kids should be back at in-person school this fall. All to say we need a little space (3 bedrooms, home office space). We have a small dog. 

And any advice about moving out in this scenario? Should we plan to move EVERYTHING out of the house or can we leave some stuff in rooms that are not involved - take only what we need? Other advice in general, about surviving the remodel period and living elsewhere? 

Or did you live in your home while fairly extensive remodel work was being done? Would appreciate hearing about those experiences too. 

Thank you! 

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We (family of four with a dog) moved out of our house for six months while we did a major remodel of our home many years ago. The work moved along much faster with us out of the way. A local realtor found us a six month rental house. We moved most of our things to the rental house and stored excess stuff in the rental house garage. One room in our house was untouched, so we left those things there. I would reach out to well-connected local realtors who may know of someone wanting to rent out their house short term. Another idea I had was to look into Airbnb’s. I believe there is a one month maximum, but perhaps you could make a deal with one of the hosts. I think these days landlords are reluctant to rent for “short terms” (even though they might have reasons to want to do so such as for a sabbatical or a temporary move) because they can never get a tenant out under the current rental laws. Clearly if you intend to move back to your home after the remodel, landlords would consider you a great short term tenant. Good luck!

We did this several years ago. Be prepared for a). the project to run several months longer than you anticipated and b) for crazy high rental prices. We couldn't afford to rent another house while we paid the current mortgage and for the remodel. With two young kids, we moved into a pretty small space and ended up packing up most of our stuff and storing it in the garage. Our remodel was pretty extensive, so we needed everything out. We also chose to live nearby so we could check on the progress every day, and it was necessary. My husband caught a lot of mistakes. 

We did a major remodel several years ago and had many of the same requirements as you - stay relatively close to our house, had small children attending schools close to our house and had two small dogs.  We ended up with a furnished Airbnb house that we rented for 3 months up front, and the owner was fine with us going month to month after that.  We ended up staying in the Airbnb for 5 months, then moved back into our house when it was ready for reoccupation, but long before the construction was actually done.  It helped that our kitchen and one full bath was in a part of the house that could be walled off from the construction.  We just moved stuff out of the part of the house impacted by construction and piled the stuff into the remaining space.  We didn't forward our mail as we checked on our house essentially daily, though of course we had deliveries sent to the rental house.

You may want to check around with neighbors to see if they happen to know of a place nearby that may be available for a short term rental, but barring that you may want to check a home rental site.  Good luck!

We lived in our home, but our neighbors when they remodeled moved out.  Their remodel took well over a year and was rough on the kids as their friends and school was all disrupted.  Then after 14 months as they were just getting ready to move into their newly remodeled a job change resulted in a relocation and they never moved it.  I just remember the mom telling us how difficulty everything was.

I think you are going to have a really hard time finding a place in North Berkeley or Berkley right now because of Berkeley’s rent control laws.  Rents are 20–25% lower than they should be right now so landlords aren’t renting vacant units right now.  

We’ve done several remodels and a job that’s talking 3-6 months for a remodel just doesn’t seem long enough unless it’s a small job.  I know for our house it was over 9 months and our neighbors up the street it was almost 2 years.

Remodels are very stressful on kids and relationships.  We’ve seen many couples/families split as the result of remodels.  Last piece of advice, find a really good contractor.  With all the fires and rebuilding going on in Santa Rosa most of the contractors are really busy and it’s hard to find someone.  I have two remodel projects I’ve had to put in hold.  It’s easy to find people who do a crummy job or who are good, and as they get the end of the project take on another big project and don’t spend the time on yours.

Hope this helps. 

Hi!  We are currently in the process of remodeling our entire house (kitchen, bathrooms, new flooring, painting and new doors).  We decided to move out of the house for 3 months.  We found our rental on  We ended up renting a fully furnished house.  The cost of the house happened to be cheaper than the cost of an apartment or an extended stay hotel.  You can also try vrbo, airbnb and other services but be prepared for the sticker shock of what fully furnished rentals cost. However, there was no way we could have lived in the house during the disruption of the remodel, plus the remodel can go a lot faster if no-one is living in the house, so ultimately it was more cost effective to just move out despite the cost of the rental. We spent a few weeks packing up the house and then we hired movers to move ALL of our possessions out of our house and put them in a huge shipping container in our driveway.  If there isn't room in driveway for a shipping container, than you can have movers move all of your stuff to a self-storage facility. What didn't fit in the storage container we put in one spare bedroom in the house that wasn't being remodeled.  Our temporary house rental is about a 10 minute drive from the house that is being remodeled.  I couldn't find anything closer that was within our rental budget.  I stop by the house that is being remodeled once or twice a day to check on the progress.  Hope this is helpful!

I have rented my furnished house out over the years to families undergoing move-out renovations. (I am no longer doing this.) In all cases the families left their furniture and all possessions behind except for clothes, toys, etc that they would need while out of their house. They found me through short-term rentals on Craigslist. I don’t imagine that this is the best vehicle anymore but I don’t really know. 
I have also heard of folks staying put. Are you up for days or weeks when the plumbing is shut off or the kitchen is closed? Zero privacy? Are you hearty campers? 
Best luck with your renovation! 


They have all sorts of rentals, not just for academics- houses, apartments, short-term and long-term I think it's wise to move out if you can, so you don't have to live with the stress of the daily disruption of a remodel. I would leave what you can in the house- moving is a lot of work! We are remodeling and I am so glad not to be living there! There is also Craigslist for rentals, but you really have to watch out for scams.

Our remodel was estimated to take 4-6 months and took about 13. We moved in after 10 months and dealt with constant construction, which was stressful. 

If possible, put as much as you can in storage. Our things got very dirty, even in other areas of the house and when covered. Also make sure your rental is flexible and easy to extend. 

I hope you learn from our experience- and that your remodel goes more smoothly!

We lived in our house while doing the foundation and during the kitchen remodel. We set up a sink in the dining room that drained into the backyard. That is no problem as long as the water stays on your own property. Then moved the fridge into the dining room. Add a microwave, hot plate, work table, eating table, and done. It worked well. But was happy to have a real kitchen again. If you are pulling out plaster, dust can get into everything. It creeps under doors and through the openings in the ceiling where the light fixtures are attached. But I think if you cover everything, close and tape the doors, it should be fine. Also contain the work area as much as possible. 

As far as finding a place to live, just inquire every place. Try nextdoor, facebook, craigslist, and every rental website. Check out management sites, too, like Premium Properties or Latham. Keep in mind that everybody is remodeling and materials are scarce And these projects generally uncover problems that have to be addressed. So it may take longer than you expect. 

Keep an eye on the contractor. They like to take shortcuts. Visit every day. 

Good luck!