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The question

We just bought a house that we intend to renovate in steps: a full gutting first and an addition to the main floor later, when our budget for it will be bigger. People tell us it's a mistake to renovate in stages. Do you agree?

The answer

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I so agree. Do it all at once or you'll never tackle the addition. It is similar to having your wisdom teeth out; if you don't do all four at once, you'll do anything to avoid the pain again. I personally love to renovate and build, but even I get construction fatigue.

When I completed the reno on my own home, it was a full year before I could face the final finish – the wallpaper, the plaster chair rails, the upholstered walls with grosgrain.

Interest rates are so low right now that it's practically free money; but if you must split the work into stages, do the addition first. If you renovate the existing house first, you will have to destroy a portion of that work when you undertake the addition. The new addition will also provide staging space for you. Be brave; call your banker.

Follow architect and interior designer Dee Dee Taylor Eustace on Twitter: @ddtaylorddd. Have a design dilemma? E-mail

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