Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Professional Advice: Surviving the Remodel Mess

A kitchen remodel is a messy undertaking. Construction waste piling up in the back yard, work boots trampling over floors and of course the insidious drywall dust that works its way into every corner of your house; all of this makes it very easy to forget the good things that await you at the end of it all. Any reputable design firm will employ responsible trades who will do their best to protect the parts of the home that aren’t part of the remodel. Drop sheets or 1/8” hardboard go down to protect the floors, sheets of poly cover the doorways to prevent the spread of dust and a regular site clean-up should all be expected.

But is there something you, the client, should be doing to help with the mess? In a word: yes. While the remodelling firm can take steps to minimize the mess, there will be a mess. So if there’s something in your home that absolutely cannot get dusty, or you do not want to even risk getting damaged, the best plan of attack is to get it out of harm’s way.

Take things like pictures and wall hangings off the walls, even on adjacent walls in neighbouring rooms. A good thump on one side of the wall could have items on the other side of the wall crashing to the floor. Bigger items like furniture can be moved to another floor for safe keeping. If that’s not possible even wrapping theses items in drop cloths can help. Electronics like home theatre equipment and computers are best kept completely away from any room being drywalled as the dust can ruin the circuits. Again, if this isn’t possible, wrap the items in plastic and seal them as tight as possible.

In some situations it’s just simpler to empty the rooms completely - if all the floors on the main floor of a house are being refinished for example. You may think your contractor could just move items from room to room ahead of the flooring trades (I’ve actually had a client ask for this). Not only will you annoy the contractor, it will cost you a fortune (they don’t move stuff for free) and you risk items being damaged each time you move them. I sometimes hire a company like PODS for temporary storage of furniture while the remodel is happening, but off-site storage also works well.

Finally, make sure you think about where all of the refuse from the remodel will be stored. Sometimes this will take the form of a large bin, in which case there’s nothing to think about. But often there’s not enough trash to warrant a bin and temporary storage of job-site trash needs to be considered. Daily removal is often not possible, not practical so there should be room for at least a couple days worth. It should also, if at all possible, be under cover. Your contractor and his workers will thank you.

Your designer or contractor should be asking you about most, if not all of these things before your project begins. But being a little bit proactive can ensure you get through your remodel as unscathed as possible.


Allison Arato said...

Terrific article Arne! Might I add my 2 cents worth of advice. If the contractor asks if you want a professional cleaning after the project, either say yes or arrange one yourself. We skimped on this, thinking we could do it ourselves and fully regret that choice. To this day (5 years later) I am still finding wood dust from our resurfaced floors!

Arne Salvesen said...

Thanks for the feedback Alison, especially the point about arranging a cleaning yourself if the contractor doesn't. I used to include this with all my projects, but the majority of clients wanted to do it themselves.

If you do the cleaning yourself make sure you gave the installer show you how to remove the drawers so you can clean the glides. Sawdust and glides do not get along!

jb @BuildingMoxie said...

as Arne suggests -- even taking measures such as sealing rooms, employing poly, protecting components individually -- electronics in close proximity to work (say an adjoining room) can still be at risk. move them if you can. a usually useful and thoughtful post Arne. ~jb

Nick @ Cupboards said...

Anytime you leave it to the contractors, you potentially open yourself up to a bigger mess. Great tips, Arne!

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