How to Live in a House During a Renovation or Construction
Living in your home during construction or major renovation can be quite stressful. Dust, debris, work crews, tools and machinery can severely limit accessible space for you and your family. It requires careful planning, patience and a few take-out meals to manage the chaos. But don't stress too much. Remember, the light at the end of the dust-filled tunnel is a newly renovated space to enjoy.
Lay the ground rules in a detailed talk with the project manager. Inform the work crew right away of any rules you have. Outline designated smoking areas, parking areas and usable entrances. Let the project manager know what the earliest and latest possible working hours are to avoid any unnecessary disruptions. Inform him of any area that is off limits to the crew.
Protect your belongings by moving furniture and accessories out of the construction area. Use plastic sheeting to section off the area. Cover furniture, electronics and air vents in adjoining areas to protect them against construction dust that finds its way through the sheeting. If the remodeling is in your kitchen, keep refrigeration, a microwave and utensils in a separate area where you will have access to them at all times. If the renovation is outside, cover plants and gardens. Keep children and pets out of the construction area at all times.
Plan ahead. Talk to the project manager and know what to expect each day. If the crew plans to use any strong-smelling, noxious materials such as glues and finishes, you may want to take a day trip with your family, put your pets in a kennel, or spend the night at a motel. Learn ahead of time when the work crew will shut off utilities such as water and electricity. Attention to these details will limit surprises during the construction period.
Be patient and flexible. Don't expect to keep a spotless house for the duration of construction and don't expect everything to go as smoothly as planned. Initial scheduling is a great tool to estimate how long the project will take, but delays happen because of weather, transportation issues and out-of-stock materials, for example. Chances are, the project will take longer than you first thought.
Make yourself accessible at all times--by cell phone or pager if you are not home. Although most details get sorted out beforehand, new things often come up and you'll need to make on-the-spot decisions for the work to progress.
- Inform your neighbors when the construction will take place to allow them to take any necessary precautions.
- Create a photo journal to keep track of the renovation or construction in case the project runs into trouble and for future reference.
- Avoid the renovation area as much as possible. If you need to enter it, consider wearing a hard hat and safety goggles, depending on the nature of the construction.
- Nails, staples and other debris will be around the construction. Wear shoes.