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How to Manage Renovation Expectations

Ask This Old House general contractor Tom Silva discusses the conversations a homeowner and a contractor should have before starting a renovation project


1. Tom and Kevin agree that a house renovation can be a very disruptive process for the everyday lives of homeowners. For that reason, Tom finds it helpful to discuss with homeowners up front all the ways they can expect their lives to be disrupted so they can prepare themselves for it.
a. Start time: Most contractors prefer to start around 7 am, which is often when homeowners are trying to get up and get ready for the day. If you’re not able to get up earlier, you’ll need to negotiate a different start time with the contractor, though starting later each day could delay the project.
b. Disturbing the neighbors: Be mindful that, depending on the scope of the work, large, loud trucks that need to find parking and spaces to work are going to inconvenience your neighbors as well. It makes the process go smoother and keeps everyone happier if you can give them a courtesy heads-up before work begins to happen.
c. Bathroom use: Even though it’s your home, it’s now a workplace for any contractor who comes to do work. Be prepared for the contractors to need to use your bathroom, and if muddy landscaping work is happening for an extended period of time, it might make sense to rent a port-o-potty.
2. Overall, Tom feels that having an open dialogue between homeowners and contractors before work begins will help head off any potential misunderstandings and problems before the project begins. That way, there should be no issues that come up mid-project that could slow the project down.