Friends, we are about to break ground!!! Yippee. It is an exciting time to commence construction after months of planning, editing and revising the project on paper. Now, the fun begins. But, before the first jackhammer hits our yard, there are preparations that must be made. Having been a part of many a construction projects both as the homeowner and as a designer, there are some things that need to happen.
The construction fence will keep Lucy and Charlie, our sweet dogs, out of harm's way during our project
The gutter downspouts on our house drain into an underground system. The contractors have ensured that the construction area isn't flooded by rerouting the water into a drain at the base of the driveway. Overlapping sheets of plywood were installed over our driveway to protect it from the equipment that will be used to dig out the foundation.
Each project has a specific scope, but the following will alleviate some stress from your life as you embark on a construction project
1) Protect the construction zone. Use a temporary fencing to separate the work area to keep children, pets and others out of harm's way during your project. Your contractor should be well versed in how to safeguard your project.
2) Access to your property. Determine how your contractor will enter the property. Consider a lock box with a special code just for the project. Establish work hours and days of the week. Check with your local codes as many cities prohibit construction on the weekends and in the evenings.
3) An Ounce of prevention versus a Pound of cure. Secure all valuables in your home to avoid the worry about special items. This protects both your valuables and your contractor.
4) Keeping it clean. Before your project begins, determine the expectations for cleaning your job site both inside and outside. Construction is M.E.S.S.Y. and there is simply no way around some of the dust and dirt that is going to occur.
There are barriers that can minimize the dust that will get into your home. Discuss how this will be handled prior to groundbreaking. If construction can be done before connecting to the existing house, that is ideal and reduces the period in which the work is happening in your space.
5) Temporary provisions. Invest the time, energy and sometimes a little money in establishing a makeshift space that will suit your family while the most important room in your house is under construction. This is a BIG one, especially if your kitchen will be impacted by your project.
6) Protecting surfaces. Make certain that flooring is adequately covered to prevent damage. Installing barriers to rooms that are not going to be impacted will reduce (but certainly not prevent) dust and dirt.
1) BRING YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR! I really can't stress this one enough. Many different workers will be a part of your project, even on a small project and keeping your perspective is paramount to the process. Keeping your interactions positive and maintaining a good relationship with everyone on your project is a key to success.
2) The unknowns and surprises. With many projects, especially those on older homes, there are often latent conditions that are discovered during the construction process. There should always be a contingency line item in your budget for these things. I generally recommend 10% to 20% depending on the scope of the project. Hopefully, they will not be significant in terms of cost or time to cure, but many projects are impacted by something not known at the commencement of the work.
3) Establish a safe zone. Try to create an area that is free from the noise and dirt of construction for each member of the family. Whether that is a bedroom, playroom, office or another space; it is ideal to have an area to which you can escape the chaos.
4) How long it is going to take. While your contractor has likely done their very best to estimate the length of time your project will take, add at least a 20% cushion to that time in your mind at the outset. Weather, damaged material, delayed inspections and a multitude of other factors can delay the completion of your project. You will be far less frustrated if you begin with a longer time horizon in your mind.
5) Project Expansion. This is a dicey area in construction. Once your project commences, it is not uncommon to hear the "While you are doing xyz, maybe we should abc". Change orders may make total sense for your project. I have seen the cost of change orders exceed the original cost of the total project. Be mindful of their impact on both your budget and time horizon. Modifying the project can really slow the process down.
6) Eating out and cleaning up. If finances allow, you might consider getting some additional support in keeping the dust at bay during your project. Having a Friday cleaning crew work their magic so that your family can enjoy the weekend in a cleaner space may be worth the investment. Most people find that they have less time and ability to cook meals during a construction project. Scope out some healthy and cost effective take out solutions so you can pick up dinner on the days that cooking is not in the cards. Spring and summer projects are a wonderful time to employ the grill and eating outdoors.
While I am on the subject of eating, I usually find that my contractors are so grateful for a treat during the workweek. Some of my favorite ways to thank those who work on my projects include donuts, breakfast tacos, kolaches or even home baked cookies. I will sometimes order pizza on a Friday to end the work week with a fun lunch. No matter what suits you, thanking those hard at work is always a good idea 🙂