Before the Remodelers Stampede through Your Home
When you start a remodeling or repair project, you're inviting strangers as
well as plenty of dust, noise and disruption into your home. It's like
someone decided to have a frat party at your house. But don't forget you're
the boss--you can keep your home from feeling like Animal House. You just
need to set the ground rules and enforce them with a little tact and
Any project is going to involve some disruption to your life. A major
remodeling or renovation requires teams of plumbers, electricians,
carpenters, painters... whose mission is to rip, saw, smash, hammer, glue...
not to mention eat, go to the bathroom, take cigarette breaks and do all
things people do at the workplace. So get ready! You can help their jobs go
more smoothly, and minimize the chaos and disruption they cause by preparing
First, consider sleeping away from home temporarily at a relative's or
friend's house, or motel room. If you stay at home, the secret to avoiding
friction is communication. Do it early and often. Start with your general
contractor who is in charge of the subcontractors. Make sure he is aware of
your concerns for your sanity. The first thing to establish is work hours.
Find out when tradespeople are going to arrive so you don't wake up to
someone hammering on your wall. Remember that the workday is typically 7
a.m. to 3 or 4 p.m.
In addition, start developing some guidelines for your contractor to provide
to employees and subcontractors who are accountable to him for what they do
on-site. But don't be surprised if you have to self-police workers who are
not his employees.
Dos and Don'ts
- Telephone. Request that workers try to limit personal use of the phone.
Of course, someone might need to make a business call to a supplier or the
home office, and that's perfectly OK. Ideally, if you have an extra line for
a modem, hook that up to a phone and make that your dedicated contractor line.
- Smoking. Request that workers smoke outside, and provide a steel bucket
or coffee can for the butts. This is good for fire prevention and safety,
- Parking. Be sensitive to your neighbors. Don't block driveways. Have
workers put a note with your phone number on their windshield, just in case.
- Bathroom. Unless a portable toilet was brought in, you'll need to tell
workers which bathroom to use. Provide plenty of paper towels and hand soap,
anyway, because they'll need a place to clean up.
- Cleanup. Make sure workers know they are responsible for cleaning up
their area and storing tools. Especially make sure no one creates a fire
hazard by leaving rags with oily finishes around.
- Keep the mess under control. Talk to your contractor about moving waste
out as quickly as possible--don't let it accumulate. Keep sensitive areas
clean by hanging plastic drop cloths or tarps and covering wooden or linoleum
- Don't expose yourself unnecessarily to fumes. Don't stick around when
glues, finishes or other noxious materials are being applied. Ventilate the
house thoroughly during and after application.
- Safeguard sensitive property such as furniture and electronics by moving
them out or sealing in plastic.
- Keep talking to your contractor. Develop a remodeling plan and stick to
it. Keep the lines of communication open throughout the project.
Remember to keep your cool and treat your workers with respect. In fact, it
wouldn't hurt to order pizza or serve soda or coffee from time to time to
boost their morale.
Sources used to create this article include writer Randall Kroll and the San