Create detailed schedule before construction begins

Home Work

July 05, 1998|By Karol V. Menzie and Ron Nodine

YOU HAVE YOUR project planned, your contractor selected, and your contract signed; so now you're ready to start the work, right?

No, not quite. There are still a few things that need to take place.

Before anything else, you must work with the contractor to develop a schedule that will let all concerned know what will happen when.

Besides allowing the many tradesmen and suppliers to plan when they will do their work or deliver their materials, the schedule allows you to plan your life around the construction.

If you're redoing a kitchen or bathroom, for instance, there is going to be a period when the room is out of commission, and you need to know how you will deal with that.

The schedule should also show when periodic payments, called "draws," will be due and what tasks must be be completed before each payment.

But probably the most important thing a schedule does is create a sense of urgency: Everyone can see, in writing, when things are supposed to happen.

The next step is to hold a pre-construction meeting. This is the point when -- if it's not the contractor himself -- you meet the person who will be responsible for the day-to-day supervision of the project. You will discuss such things as:

* Work hours. You need to specify the earliest and latest times you will allow workers in your home.

* Access. Decide what door workers will use to get in and who will have keys. (Ron installs a temporary "job lock" so the owner's key isn't used.) Workers also will need access to water, electricity, a phone and a bathroom. (If you don't want them using your bathroom, a portable toilet will be needed.)

* Storage. Determine where materials and equipment can be stored during construction.

* Emergency phone numbers. You need to specify where you can be reached in case of a problem that requires an immediate decision, and where you can reach someone when the plumber forgets to re-light the water heater.

* Protection of existing finishes. Areas adjacent to those where work is going on will need to be sealed to minimize dust. Any flooring that will remain must be covered. Furniture, knickknacks and electronic equipment need to be covered or removed, and pictures on walls next to the work should be taken down and stored in a safe place.

* Debris. You need to decide where construction debris will be kept and how it will be disposed of.

* Neighbors. If what you are doing might affect your neighbors' property, you need to let them know in advance what to expect and get their permission, preferably in writing, if necessary -- for instance, permission to drive across their property. It's also a good idea to keep them informed about work that is noisy or disruptive. Let them know when the backhoe will be showing up, for instance, or when the framers will be pounding nails.

* Selections. If there are still items to be selected for your project, such as light fixtures or floor tiles, you need to find out when you have to make a selection so they can be ordered in time for when they are needed.

And now, finally, it's time for work to begin.

Next: Following a typical project: a two-story addition, with basement.

Ron Nodine is owner of American Renovator Inc., a Baltimore design-build remodeling firm, and current president of the Remodelers Council of the Home Builders Association of Maryland. Karol Menzie is a feature writer for the Sun.

If you have questions, tips or experiences to share about working on houses, e-mail Ron at or Karol at Or write c/o HOME WORK, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278. Questions of general interest will be answered in the column; comments, tips and experiences will be reported in occasional columns.

Pub Date: 7/05/98

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