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
First, you'll review the scope of work and construction
schedule portions of your contract to get any questions
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
4. If there is an after-hours emergency, who do you
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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