What to Expect When You’re Constructing ;-)

Your contractor ultimately determines the success of the renovation process, but you play a big part. Planning for the disruption and adjusting your lifestyle help make it manageable. Here are a few things to consider:

Tony Stefan is an architect practicing in Sarasota and Manatee Counties

A kitchen renovation will alter your diet. How will you be feeling after eating microwave dinners for 6 to 8 weeks of your life? Will this help you cope with the additional disruptions that remodeling causes? If possible, set up a temporary kitchen in the garage, complete with refrigeration, storage and countertop space. Double your dining-out budget for the duration.

• Life without a kitchen and a master bath is a hardship. Your kids’ bathroom isn’t big enough to handle all of you, especially since you’re all going to be living off barbecue, pizza delivery and ramen noodles. Just give yourselves a break and rent a condo on the beach. You’ll return to your renovated home all happy and renewed.

Drywall dust is a necessary evil. It’s not your contractor’s fault, he’s only human. The air conditioning has to be left on, and the dust goes with the air flow. Dust protection like plastic screens and dust mats are fundamental, but they still don’t perfectly control it. Plan on wiping down the underside of the caps of your pill bottles in the back of your medicine cabinet in the furthest bathroom.

• Sub-contractors get sick, pulled to other jobs and have emergencies. Materials and products are sometimes discontinued, lost, and broken. The information that your contractor gives you is only as good as the information he gets from his trades. Some disruptions are normal, and you should expect them. But the contractor does need to take charge and make the situation as right as he can.

• The architect develops the design and the contractor delivers it. The architect doesn’t control the trades or the contractor, rather only provides observations where construction deviates from the plans. Ultimately, the person who writes the checks calls the shots. You write the check to the contractor, and the contractor writes checks to his trades and suppliers.

The building department has its own agenda. It’s to protect the health, safety and welfare of the general public. That’s why they do their inspections. If they fail an inspection, it can be for a number of reasons: a minor detail of the installation, a rare threat to life and limb, or the inspector is having a bad hair day. And no, they won’t tell you what time they’re coming.

There is no substitute for references. Your contractor needs to provide more than a few, and it’s vital to do your homework and check them.

Find out how an architect can help make your project successful at “What’s in a Design?”