Surviving Remodeling

As homeowners prepare for remodeling, they often plan for everything except the experience itself. Budget planning, material selection, contractor negotiations are all very important, but just as important are plans for living through the event.

Remodeling projects can last weeks or even months. Take steps before the work begins to prepare your family. Start communicating with your contractor from the beginning by setting up a list of rules that will work best for your household. Know the earliest workers will arrive and how late they may stay. Instruct your contractor on where workers may park and which entrance is to be used. Don’t forget to identify who will have the keys to your home. If you have pets or small children, discuss how you’ll handle things like open doors and nap times. Everyone in the family should be told to stay out of the way of the workers. Most remodeling is, well, messy. Ask your contractor where materials, tools and equipment will be stored and when cleaning will take place. Should you expect cleaning to be done at the end of each day, state that upfront. The contractor may only plan to clean once per week.

‘Houseguests’ will abound during your remodeling project. Workers will need the basics covered while they are in your home. While many contracts have mobile phones, make arrangements with your contractor for telephone access if needed. Decide which bathroom the workers will use or have your contractor supply a port-a-let. If you don’t want the workers to eat lunch at your antique dining room table, let them know where they can take their lunch break. Try offering a pot of coffee or some ice tea as a way of letting the workers know they’re in a home, not just on a job site. Also be sure to inform your contractor and workers which parts of the house are “off-limits”. During this time, family space and privacy will be critical.

Protect valuables during your remodeling project by renting a storage unit. If available, ask a friend or family member with garage or basement space to help store furniture, collectibles, rugs, and paintings-anything not replaceable in the event of an accident. Most contractors will use protective covers for furniture and carpeting, but double-check before hand to avoid the cost of cleaning after the job. While the project is underway, send out window coverings for a cleaning.

Communication is the key to a successful project. Ask your contractor when and where he may be reached. Get all phone numbers, in case you need to reach your contractor with during an emergency. Keep those numbers next to each phone in your house, and on speed dial in your mobile phone. Give your contractor all your phone numbers so you may be reached at all times. Set a plan for communicating with the contractor. Decide in advance how often you’ll be updated on work progress, delays, and material deliveries, and when you’ll be able to ask questions. Having one point of contact between the contractor and the homeowner helps avoid miscommunications during the project.

Try to keep your cool during stressful times. Plan a ‘reveal’ party for your family to enjoy after the workers leave and the paint dries. As your project progresses, remind yourself and family members of your goals. Keeping your eye on the prize will help keep your mind off the mess!