Remodeler's Survival Guide, Part 3: The Communication Plan

ProSource | 9/29/2015 | Expert Advice

Now that you’ve found the perfect remodeler to help you create your dream room, you’ll need to lay out a communication plan to keep that relationship strong.

Depending on the type of remodeling project you’re undertaking, the next few weeks to months will be filled with constant phone calls, updates and messages between you and your remodeler, and all the contractors working in your home.

Creating a communication plan, and then holding a pre-construction meeting to review that plan and go over all the details, will help to clarify roles, set expectations and ensure messages don’t get miscommunicated or lost, resulting in a mistake that could affect the success of your remodeling project.

Your communication plan should consist of the following elements:

  • Contact List
    Include each person’s name, role, and regular and emergency contact information. Also add a column to show where they fall on the contact tree. For example, are they a contact for daily decisions or for after-hours emergencies?
  • Contact Schedule
    Determine how often you’ll expect updates on progress (weekly? bi weekly?). Choose a day of the week and a time, even going so far as to set up a standing weekly call or face-to-face meeting (e.g., 4pm every Friday) so that you know what’s been accomplished that week and what’s coming up next.
  • Backup Contact
    Choose a backup for each contact person to assure continuity in anyone's absence.
  • Message Center
    Designate a location in your house where contact people will leave written messages for each other (for example, you might choose a notebook secured to the fridge or inside the front door, a mail slot in the laundry room or a wipe off board in the mud room, etc.).

Once you’ve got your communication plan in place, it’s time to set up a pre-construction meeting with your remodeler. This will give you an opportunity to go over all of the elements in your plan and get clarification from your remodeler on procedures and how the job will progress.

It also offers both you and your remodeler an opportunity to define your expectations, agree on the anticipated outcome and prepare for any issues that may arise later.

Some topics you may want to cover include:

  • Signage
    Most contractors will want to place a sign on your property. Remember that these signs aren’t just a marketing tool, but also help contractors and suppliers find your home.
  • Off Limits
    Discuss any areas of your home that will be strictly off limits to workers.
  • Home Access
    If your home has an alarm system, will you be setting up a temporary code for workers? Will you need to give contractors a key, or will a homeowner always be present when the crew is working?
  • Children and Pets
    If you have children and/or pets, discuss the best way to ensure they stay safe and out of the way of workers.
  • Trash Removal
    Discuss how trash removal will be handled. If a dumpster is necessary, decide on its location on your property.
  • Utility Interruptions
    Ask your remodeler whether he or she anticipates any interruptions of utilities during the remodeling project. If so, note when and for how long. At certain stages of construction, the project may affect basic household necessities, like water and electricity. Determine with your remodeler whether you’ll need to vacate your house at any time.
  • Clean Up
    Determine your expectations regarding daily clean up. For example, will sweeping be sufficient or will you require a more thorough cleaning in order to use the space?
  • Crew Guidelines
    Work with your remodeler to establish some ground rules for the remodeling crew:
    • Hours. When determining work hours, take not only the members of your home, but also your neighbors, into consideration. Will weekend hours be different than work week hours?
    • Parking. Is there available parking for workers near the jobsite?
    • Bathrooms. Will bathroom facilities in your home be available to workers? If not, what options are open to them?
    • Smoking. Find out your remodeler’s policy for smoking on the jobsite. How do workers contain smoke and cigarette butts?
    • Profanity. Ask your remodeler if there is a policy for the use of profanity on job sites. Let your remodeler know if you’re especially sensitive to this issue.
    • Music. Discuss whether you’ll allow workers to play music at a reasonable volume during work hours. Let your remodeler know if there is any type of music you do not want played.

Now that you’ve got a strong communication plan in place you’re ready to move on to the next phase.

If you’re remodeling your kitchen, you’ll need to set up a temporary kitchen space, discussed in part four of our Remodeler’s Survival Guide.

If another room in your home is being remodeled, you’re ready to begin your project, but you might still need part five of our guide.

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