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Renovation Etiquette

et·i·quette [et-i-kit, -ket] a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class or group.

When I was a little girl my mother enrolled me in an etiquette course that helped several generations to grow up civilized.  The course was based on the book ‘White Gloves and Party Manners’ by Marjabelle Young Stewart & co-author Ann Buchwald (wife of Art Buchwald).  If only everyone had taken that course as a youngster…what a wonderful world it would be.

Here are my etiquette tips for remodeling in a civilized manner:

1. Telling the neighbors – Two weeks prior to starting construction, personally deliver a letter to your neighbors that would be affected by the dust generated from your renovation project so they can plan accordingly (i.e. not leave windows open during the day, secure pets, etc.).  If they are home, this is a wonderful opportunity to answer any questions they may have about your project.  In the event your renovation project must go through a variance or design review process requiring the support of your neighbors invite them to an open house where they will have the opportunity to preview your project in context and ask questions prior to the confirmed hearing date.  Additionally, make your neighbors aware of the hours construction is permitted and that your construction team will be observing them.  This thoughtfulness go a long way in creating goodwill.

2.  Dealing with parking – Parking restrictions should be respected by contractors and their crews.  The parking needs of neighbors should also be considered. For example, driveways should not be blocked.

3. Feeding/Offering drinks to the construction guys – Every one likes being valued.  Periodically buying lunch, snacks or drinks for your construction team goes a long way in keeping them happy.  Happy constriction teams make for happy homeowners.

4. Getting toilets to ensure workers are not peeing in the foundation – So you’re not obsessing about whether the workers are going to keep your bathroom as clean as you would, make sure the contractor’s bid includes providing a porta-potty on site for the workers and that it is drained, cleaned, disinfected, and deodorized on a regular basis.

5.  What to do when a neighbor complains to you/the city – You should always determine what the issue is and do your best to accommodate the neighbor, as appropriate.  If the complaint is of concern to the city, the city will tell you what needs to be done to rectify the situation.

6.  When you can’t come to terms with your foreman, etc. – Keep in mind that while your foreman may be accustomed to resolving issues related to construction and technical expertise he/she may not be accustomed to resolving customer service issues.  In either case, escalate your issue to the hiring contractor who will be more likely to listen and understand your needs and work with you to resolve the issue.



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