By Doug Hanna
It's one of my favorite Clash songs. But it's also the subject of this month's letter because I'm referring to the decision many owners face when renovating their home. Along with other questions we typically ask people, today it is more important than ever to know whether an owner or family intends to stay in their home during a renovation.
Living in a work zone, or right next to one, is never easy or pleasant, but with the recent implementation of the EPA lead containment laws, it is much more difficult, expensive, and to be honest, impractical. Sure, if a job is limited in scope and can be easily separated off from the main living area, it's still reasonable to expect that people can remain in the home. However, if homeowners intend to stay, there are real costs involved.
For instance, dust is something that can be controlled for the most part, but dust barriers must be absolute in nature, which takes more time and materials. Noise is another issue - and much more difficult to control. If you don't have a problem with the sound of trucks arriving, people talking and skilsaws running at 7 am, followed by unpredictable blasts of noise throughout the day, then living in a house under renovation is for you. If we are working on a condominium renovation, we are often required to start later - at 8 or even 9 am. A delay in the start of a work day means additional labor costs.
More and more, we are of the mind that if the job is significant in nature, the home was built before 1978, and especially if there are small children involved, it just does not make sense for the family to live in the home while the job is in progress.
If moving out for a number of months is just not practical or affordable, accommodations must be made - somehow. Yes, we have installed plenty of temporary kitchens, using the old cabinets, usually in an adjacent room. And we can stagger the bathroom renovations unless you only have one, like the bathroom we just renovated in an apartment on Beacon Hill (in a case like this, it's advisable to keep your gym membership up to date!). Grandma isn't really using those extra rooms, now is she? If you have to stay, you will most likely get to know your contractor very well and you will hopefully make some new friends. But just please understand that you will need to deal with changes and inconveniences, that will also cost you more in the long run.