By Gene and Katie Hamilton
Contractors want to make improving your house a good experience so they prefer to get in and get out and do their job. But it's not always that easy. The extent and complexity of a home improvement project determines how long a household is disrupted. When the project is a day or less the inconvenience factor is usually at a minimum, but when the work required takes more time family members can feel the stress.
For example, a basic swap of a hot water heater or closet makeover is usually handled within a day's time and the results are immediately enjoyed. For your part you can help speed the process by emptying the work area - cleaning the utility room where the hot water resides or emptying the closet - so the installer can get to work. It just makes sense to pay a pro for his or her skills instead of for something you can do.
Adjusting Your Home Life When Projects Take More than a Day
When a project involves several steps in sequence such as tiling or hanging drywall, the jobs involve more time. The tile adhesive has to dry before applying grout, the mud on the drywall tape needs several applications with drying and sanding time in between. A job like floor refinishing in a room or rooms means all the furniture and furnishings have to be removed and stored. It all takes time.
And a convenient storage place for new materials - cabinets, countertops, floor planks, replacement windows - being installed is needed. That might require cleaning out the garage, a dreaded job but a necessary one.
All the changes in your daily household translate to being temporarily out of your control. A steady stream of subcontractors generating a backdrop of noisy power tools can make some family members cranky. If anyone has allergies or breathing problems they can be severely affected by drywall dust or chemicals in use so they may have to stay somewhere else while the work is being done. Even your pets don't like the intrusion or the idea of changing their normal routines.
To keep things organized keep a log of the day and time different contractors and installers visit and make note of what was discussed, decided or agreed on with any action on your part. Keep a basket for receipts of deliveries that come into the house so you will be able to access them if necessary. As materials are delivered look at them to see that the size, style, and number are correct, and note their condition.
Special Issue Rooms: Kitchens and Bathrooms
You'll make it through a kitchen remake if you like to camp because you might be reduced to preparing food in the basement laundry tub or the powder room. Set up a makeshift kitchen with a refrigerator on the back porch or in the basement for the basics. And use a microwave to prepare microwave entrées served on paper plates so you have to wash only silverware and glasses. Alternative: Eat out at restaurants or get take home meals.
When the bathroom is under construction schedule the work so there's always a working toilet and a shower for bathing. Make sure there's at least one electrical outlet to power hair dryers, electric shavers, and so on. Try to coordinate family members' bathroom time and keep it to a minimum (well, try anyway).
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