How to Speed up Your Home’s Improvement Projects

Reader Contribution by Megan Wild
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Having your home remodeled can be so overwhelming that many people just decide to accept whatever flaws their home has until they find another place to live. The process can be intimidating. It’s expensive, and you have to put your trust in people you don’t know. They aren’t in as big a hurry as you are.

But there are some things you just can’t do yourself. If you have to gut and replace a kitchen or bathroom, you want people with experience and know-how to do the job. You will have to have faith in them and reassurance that while there may be bumps in the road, things will eventually work out.

Once they start ripping things out, you are at their mercy and on their timeline. You’ll go to bed every night wondering if you will ever eat in your kitchen again or if the work crew will slowly become part of the family. While you may not be able to do the work, there are a few things you can do in advance and during the project to make sure things go smoothly and the job is completed as quickly as possible, which results in less of an impact on our Earth.

Clear Out the Work Zone

Don’t waste crew work time on moving your things out of the way, unless it’s part of the contract. Move your own couches or tables and cover them with plastic or a bed sheet. You are going to treat your fragile and precious items more gently than a hurried worker.

Try to make the work area someplace you never have to go into for the entire time of the project. You want your stuff out of the way, and you don’t want to be getting in the way of their tools or unfinished work areas. If you have valuables or cash in the house, put them in a safe deposit box or find a really good hiding place. You don’t want to tempt anyone to steal from you, and you don’t want to wrongly blame someone if something ends up missing.

Establish Good Communication

Schedule a meeting to include all the major players in your project. Go over the plans and timelines, and try to identify conflicts in advance. Adjust the schedule of tasks accordingly. Exchange phone numbers and other contact information, and establish weekly status updates.

Find out what permits are needed and who is responsible for obtaining them. Contractors usually have a better relationship with the permit offices, and they know the process. It’s usually better to let them get the permits, but make sure the costs involved are transparent as well as the rules. Discuss what causes delays for each player and try to keep them from occurring in the first place. Here are some proactive strategies:

1. Have them tour the property and identify any items that need to be moved or rooms that need to be cleared out. Establish boundaries in advance. If they aren’t bringing their own portable toilets, decide if they will be allowed to use yours.

2. Show them where they can and can’t go in your home. It’s really just a matter of your personal comfort with having people in your house. Use signage and mark off areas where they should not enter.

3. Talk to your neighbors. Make sure they aren’t surprised by the work being done on your property.

Identify Required Machinery

When interviewing potential contractors, discuss what type of equipment is going to be used to complete the project. Do they own or rent their equipment? Ask if the equipment is regularly maintained. Preventative maintenance reduces unexpected breakdowns and unwanted, costly delays. Heavy machinery is expensive, and it costs a lot to repair. Ask them how they have handled machine breakdowns on other projects. Do they have a backup plan? If their machinery breaks down, you will be waiting even longer for your project to get completed.

Ask What You Can Buy For the Project

There may be some things you can buy in advance, like paint, lumber, or hardware, so that the contractor does not have to obtain them. This will save your contractor time and may cost you less money. Just don’t get involved in buying anything too complicated or too bulky for your vehicle or yourself. That will be counterproductive.

Get Out of Their Way

The best way you can help your work crew speed things along is to get out of their way. Be there in the morning to go over any questions or misunderstandings. Make sure everyone can contact you if needed, and then stay in a different area of the house.

You certainly have every right to be in your home, but being in the way of a project will only prolong the finish. Plus, there are things they will be doing to your home that you or your family may find disturbing. Remodeling is only pretty at the end. Do yourself a favor and spare yourself the sight of the site. Plus, the workers already have a boss. They don’t need another one.

Check their work at the end of the day when they are gone. Make notes regarding any questions or concerns. Bring this up to the person in charge the next morning before work resumes.

Be Understanding but Firm With Delays or Changes

If you established good communication, you will know upfront what types of delays to expect. You also have to be ready to expect the unexpected. There may be some unique quirk to your house that will cause a change in plans, a delay of schedule and potentially increased costs.

Keep track of any changes or increased costs in writing. Make sure all the parties are on the same page. Get everything out in the open and make your expectations clear. As best you can, do that before something happens in order to avoid fighting with the people on whom you depend.

When they are done, tour the project with your contractor. Make notes of any unfinished or unacceptable work. Identify any messes or stains that need to be removed. Ask for a few days to go over the work before you make their final payment. If they want you to be a satisfied customer, they should not mind this request.

Major projects cause major headaches. No matter what it is, it will disrupt your home and strain your relationships. Great sums of money will disappear, your privacy will be compromised, and your house will be in disarray. Talk to your spouse and children ahead of time. Realize this soon will pass, and when it’s over, you will have a nicer kitchen, a finished basement or a swimming pool to enjoy.


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