Can we stay home during renovations?


Q. We need to do some repairs and renovations, including badly needed bedrooms for our three kids. Is it really possible to stay in the house with our kitchen torn apart for only a week (so they say), and how long do you think it will take? We only have one bathroom, and we are told that we may have it renovated after the second-floor bath is done. Is this possible? What do you suggest?

A. You need to have a serious sit-down with the contractor to iron out the reality. I get this question many times a year, and the answer is always the same. It will definitely cost you more to stay in the house during a large project like this. You will definitely not have a finished kitchen in a week, and you will definitely have to be inconvenienced at some point with no working bathroom. On top of all this, the house may need temporary heating if the project is not framed, weather-enclosed and plumbed for heating by the first cold snap this October. (Remember that it snowed at the end of the month last October.) 

The pre-construction meeting you need to have should include where your belongings are going to be stored, and who is moving them. If large furniture or shelving unit items are remaining, discuss how they will be protected. As I said, the cost will be greater, because some of these rooms and items need special handling and protection, taking time. Time is money.

There will be dust, no matter how many dust curtains are installed. There will be lots of noise, and not just from obnoxious radios that cause the neighbors to call not only you, but also the contractor, architect and building officials. Decide what you’re going to do for sleeping arrangements, including, beds, clothing storage and privacy. Have a backup plan for where you will flee if a tarp blows off when the roof of your one-story house is gone and your belongings are soaking wet. Ask to be told about when plumbing will be shut off so you can shower beforehand.

I once had a pregnant client who actually had the contractor build a frame around her bed and drape clear plastic over it to make a tent enclosure after she was ordered by her doctor not to get out of bed. I remember sitting outside her tent while she complained about being captive in her own home, and how nobody told her about all the loud noise and dust she would put up with. Surprise! Get ready for a bumpy ride!

Readers are encouraged to send questions to: Herald Homes, 2 Endo Blvd., Garden City, NY 11530, Attn: Monte Leeper, architect.