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Minimize Remodeling Chaos

A major remodeling or renovation is by definition a messy and disruptive process. Walls come down, windows are torn out, cabinets yanked--you get the picture. Although you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet, there's no need for your project to completely turn your life upside-down. Better Homes and Gardens Magazine recently offered these survival tips for keeping the dust, confusion and odors at bay.

First of all, it might be wise to simply escape and stay away from home most of the time. Find refuge with a relative or friend, or motel room. You'll at least be able to count on a good night's sleep, hot meals and a shower every day. But make sure your home away from home is close enough to allow frequent inspections of the contractor's work. Improvise if you must stay at home, by converting a bedroom to a temporary kitchen (thank heaven for microwaves) or bringing in bottled water.

Next, keep the mess under control. Talk to your contractor about moving waste out as quickly as possible--don't let it accumulate around the porch or garden. Give special attention to keeping sensitive areas clean. Hang plastic drop cloths or tarps to keep dust contained in areas under renovation. If wooden or linoleum floors are susceptible to scratching or scarring, make sure they are covered.

Don't expose yourself unnecessarily to fumes. Find out when glues, finishes or other noxious materials will be applied, so you can make a point of leaving at the strategic moment. For safety's sake, ventilate the house thoroughly during and after application.

Safeguard sensitive property. There's nothing like fine construction dust for permeating valuable items like electronics. Furniture, computers, stereos and the like should be covered or, better yet, removed. Unplug the telephone and store it somewhere away from the dust.

Keep talking to your contractor. Develop a remodeling plan and stick to it. The more you change course midstream, the more headaches you'll create from service disruptions and waste problems. The idea is to avoid mistakes, misunderstandings, and cost overruns by making your expectations clear at the outset, and keeping the lines of communication open throughout the project.