How-To Articles

Preconstruction: Getting Ready For Remodeling
by Matt Myers

Remodeling is a bit like having 15 strangers over to play football in your living room for a few weeks. It may not be quite that bad, but certain remodeling projects will disrupt just about every routine you and your family have. Because your life may be turned upside down with your upcoming project, make sure a "preconstruction meeting" takes place before construction begins. Schedule the meeting for no less than two weeks before construction begins, and plan to have this preconstruction meeting if your project is more than two weeks in duration.

Be sure the following people are in attendance:
· You and your spouse
· The person who sold the job (a salesperson, or company owner, as the case may be)
· The project superintendent

I know this may sound difficult, but all decision makers should be in attendance for every project-related meeting because of the decisions that are involved, and the work that's being reviewed.

This preconstruction meeting serves these primary two functions:
First, you'll review the scope of work and construction schedule portions of your contract to get any questions answered.
Second, you'll discuss and arrive at a set of "ground rules" that balance your day-to-day quality-of-life requirements with the contractor's need for access and freedom when they are working within your home and on your property.

Take the time to discuss these "ground rules" thoroughly. Your construction contract will address some of these issues under the General Conditions of Construction, but it is good to review exactly what the language in the contract means to both you and your contractor. More than likely you have conflicting assumptions and expectations, so it's much better to expose these now, otherwise they will pop up unexpectedly, cause tempers to rise, and slow construction. Talk about the following Ground Rules in your preconstruction management meeting and decide on as many as possible:

Ground Rules Agreement

1. What time will daily work begin and end?
2. Can work be scheduled on weekends?
3. If weekend work is an option, are there any special restrictions?
4. If there is an after-hours emergency, who do you call?
5. Who will you talk to about change orders? What is the best number to call?
6. Who do you take day-to-day comments and suggestions to?
7. When do you want the weekly homeowner meeting to occur? (Homeowners' meetings bring the builder and homeowners together at regular intervals to address questions and review progress.)
8. Will any work areas need to be completely cleared of furniture? (Note: Most contractors will state in their contracts that they shall not be responsible for any valuables left in any area under construction. The possibility of accidents is too great.) Specify.
9. Where will workers store their tools and building materials?
10. Which outside area(s) will bear the brunt of construction activities and what protective measures can be taken?
11. Does any landscaping need to be moved or protected?
12. Is there any way to lessen the impact of construction?
13. If there are pets, where will they be kept during construction?
14. If there are children, what rules apply to them around the work site during working hours?
15. What dust containment procedures will the contractor employ?
16. What kind of cleanup will take place at the end of each day?
17. What restrictions, if any, are there on your or your subcontractors' use of your bathroom?
18. Will there be a designated eating or smoking area?
19. Are there any parking restrictions the contractor should be aware of?
20. If necessary, review the location of the dumpster and Porto John.

Signed (Homeowners)

Signed (Contractor)

The questions above are just a start. Develop your own questions that reflect your particular concerns, needs, and the nature of your project. This is important. Think about it before the meeting. Don't be afraid to bring up anything, no matter how small. Preconstruction management is all about saving construction headaches during and after the project. Remember, reaching agreement on ground rules is the basis for a good, cooperative relationship later on and generally gets things off to a smooth start. By having both parties in agreement on the initial ground rules, you have both agreed to key concerns regarding the day-to-day management of your project.