Q: This spring we are beginning a remodel on our home so we are trying to decide if we have to completely move out, or if we can stay during the construction. What are the pros and cons of each decision?
A: Perhaps after reading this column, you will be able to make a more informed decision about living or not living in your home while it is a construction zone.
Besides presenting a particularly challenging management task for homeowners, the architect and the builder, living in a house during a remodel versus temporarily re-locating raises some basic questions about what you require to be comfortable. What does it take for you and your family to function? The bottom line is, you will need a place that is clean, dry, warm, and safe, and that provides you with the ability to cook and bathe.
Many factors will contribute to your decision, including:
- The complexity of the project
- Your construction schedule
- The size and experience of the construction crew
- Your tolerance for inconvenience
- The relationship and communication between the builder and you
Some considerations are:
- Jobsite safety for you, your children, visitors and pets
- What are the convenience costs you will accrue with either option: eating out more often, renting elsewhere, buying things you can't get to because they are in storage, etc.
- How well can you tolerate the noise from building equipment and the crew?
- Possible interruption of your utilities and home office functions
- Potential disruption of your routines: neighborhood services, getting to the local schools, continuing to see friends and neighbors
- If you move, the commuting costs: gas, vehicle maintenance, time
- How will you deal with cleanliness: dust, dirt, construction debris, stockpiled materials
Whether you move or stay put, there are some things you can do to prepare for your project:
- Communicate your goals: It is important to be very clear at the outset about what the expectations are of both the homeowner and the builder
- Allow time to do some advanced organization of how everything is going to work during the construction, i.e. what goes where, what areas will be closed off, where you can safely store things
- Consider having the work done in stages so you can seal off living and storage zones, create a clear path of travel, parking, material stockpiling, and debris management
You will want your decision to be thoughtful, taking into account all family members, the length and size of your construction, the type of project, and how well you can plan ahead with your builder.
My family opted to move out for nine months during our remodel. We are convinced we saved money as well as nerves. But many of my residential clients are quite comfortable living in the "construction zone," so long as the construction schedule is short, the builder has good "bedside manner," the living area is sealed off from the construction area, and the crew is successful in maintaining a safe and clean site.
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