Great Remodeling Choices 101: How to Weather Living in a Construction Zone

If you are planning to live in your space while the subs are at work, here are tips to stay sane.

This article is the last of a three-part series about making smart decisions about your home remodel project.

The contractor you’ve chosen is beginning your remodel job. It’s so exciting—until demo is over and the work looks like it’s slowing down. The subs are smoking outside while you’re drinking your coffee—and you have noticed they are using your bathroom. Now what? If you are planning to live in your space while the subs are at work, here are tips to stay sane:


Informal and formal communication agreements need to be defined and followed by both you and the general contractor (GC)/site manager.

  • Hold daily informal morning meetings for the first week or two as expectations and subs are being tested.
  • Have weekly, more formal 30-45 minute meetings, covering the overall project schedule—and larger issues that arise should never be put off.
  • Both you and the GC must take each other’s calls, and emails/texts must be answered in a timely manner.

Projects fall apart rapidly when communication fails. Tempers start to flare and what should be a relatively smooth process becomes a nightmare.

Decision Making

Be aware that you must make decisions extremely quickly and definitively. If you have hired a professional and experienced GC, then the number-one reason projects get off track is the client’s inability to make timely decisions and the generation of onsite change orders. Change orders get very expensive; time is money, as subs have to be rescheduled and product has to be ordered, which can take weeks to arrive. The more you know and understand product lead times and the impact they have on your job, the better you can be at decision making.

Site Management

Set the rules of the road. Require the GC’s team to keep the construction area taped off, swept down at the end of every work day, and tools and product neatly stacked or arranged. Determine hours of work (you can control this) and punctuality, smoking on the site, movement in your private space—like the use of your bathroom because they know it is functional—and pet management (which should remain your responsibility). These may seem silly or embarrassing at the beginning, but it could save you a world of upset.


Have a discussion with the GC at the beginning of the job to set expectations. Learn their billing practices, demand backup receipts from all subs and product orders to support the billing, and make it clear that they cannot show up on a Friday afternoon, stand over you, ask for a check, and wait until you write one; that is not professional.

Judy Goldman is the owner and CEO of Front Range Design Center and Design Studio Interior Solutions, a residential and commercial interior design firm based in Boulder, Colorado. View their profile or contact them at 303.652.1727.

Content for this article provided by Design Studio Interior Solutions.

Categories: Interiors