Every remodeling project creates some stress. Dirt, dust, and disorder — not to mention a daily invasion of contractors, can leave you feeling like your home is no longer your own. This disruption can lead to mounting anxiety — especially if you don’t know what to expect. Whether you’re adding an addition, or renovating a small bath, the best way to minimize stress from remodeling is to be prepared for each phase of the project. Here are some helpful tips:
Planning and Preparation
Careful planning with your design/build team is the key to a smooth construction process. This is the time to discuss design changes, select and review products (such as fixtures, windows, and doors), and make outstanding decisions. It’s also important to communicate your individual desires, needs, and expectations regarding the budget. Thorough preparation — without hasty decision-making, will help to minimize many of the common problems and frustrations that can occur after a project begins.
It’s important to draft a realistic schedule before any work begins. A written schedule allows you to plan for the various stages of remodeling — from demolition to finish work. Once you have a timetable, you know what to expect, and how to plan for your family’s needs. Remember that changes will lengthen your completion date for the project.
Before actual construction begins, you should meet with your design/build team to discuss practical issues such as: Where will materials be stored? How will debris be disposed of? Which phones and bathrooms should the crew use? What are the crew’s work hours? Are there special considerations for children, pets, or a security system? From this point on, daily contact with the lead carpenter will keep you informed of any last minute decisions. This includes updates on cost changes, so you’ll always know what you’re spending.
A Contingency Key
If you are remodeling your kitchen – and it can’t be used, you may have the added costs of eating out. When possible, these costs can be lowered by rearranging the appliances in your home. Your contractor can temporarily reposition your stove and refrigerator in another location, so you can continue to prepare meals. This is especially helpful if you have children.
Protecting Your Home
The dust has an amazing ability to penetrate every object in your home — even your computer. Without adequate protection, clean-up from dust can take months. With this in mind, every precaution should be taken to minimize dust before any work begins. Sealed plastic barriers can be installed between the work area and your living quarters. It’s important to remove pictures and personal belongings as well as rugs that might be damaged. And, your design/build team should suggest ways to protect areas or furnishings that can’t be removed. At the end of each work, the site should be swept and put in order.
Nothing can be more irritating than learning your contractor has been locked out and has missed a day’s work. The best way to keep this from happening is to install a lockbox similar to the those used by real estate agents. By leaving the key in the box each day, it never leaves the site. Your contractor will install the box — with the combination, in an unobtrusive yet accessible location.
You should expect a pleasant working relationship with the design/build team you have hired. Your contractor should be easy to do business with. This includes promptly returned telephone calls and a quick and thorough response to all your concerns. And, a staff member should be available at all times in case of an emergency.
A “warranty walk-through” six months to a year after the completion of a project should also be expected. Your contractor should re-visit the project and evaluate the work that has been done. If any defects due to design or construction have developed, the problem should be corrected with no additional charges to the client.