Construction is a dangerous industry. Contracting positions like electricians and roofing come with pretty significant risks for the workers. That’s why worker’s compensation insurance for contractors is a must-have.
With that being said, when you’re doing a remodel in your home, it can be risky for your family as well.
Construction zones are not family-friendly, but a lot of people can’t or don’t choose to move out during a remodel or renovation.
There are things you can be proactive about, however, to stay safe and protect kids, pets, and anyone else in your home.
Know What to Expect
One of the important things you can do is be very specific in your communication with your contractors and ask any questions that you may have. You want to know the timeline and what you can expect during each stage of your remodel or renovation project so you can plan accordingly.
You need a detailed project plan so that you face as few surprises as possible.
You can also be proactive about safety by choosing a reputable contractor and checking references, and talking to previous clients.
A good contractor who’s experienced is going to know what they can do on their end to make your renovation as safe and seamless as possible.
Talk to your contractor about the safety precautions they follow, how they hire subcontractors, and what they’re going to do to make sure the worksite is one that’s healthy for everyone.
Don’t accept general terms from a contractor or be afraid to ask them questions, including about how they’ll keep their workers and the people in your home safe.
When you know timelines and general expectations, you can start to prepare things like perhaps moving clothes and items out of a room where work will be done or setting up a temporary kitchen.
If you have an older house, you have to be aware of the risks of toxic exposures to things like dust, mold, and even lead or asbestos. Homes that were built prior to 1978 are especially likely to have lead and asbestos because these were commonly used in various building materials.
If you discover any lead or asbestos, or even if it’s suspected based on the age of your home, you need a specialized contractor for removal.
Keep your kids entirely away from the work area so they aren’t coming in contact with materials when they’re exposed.
A good plastic seal can help here.
Depending on the materials that you could be exposed to and whether anyone in your home has a condition like allergies or asthma, it could be best to try and find somewhere else to stay during a remodel.
Personal Safety and Subcontractors
During a renovation, depending on the scale and scope, there’s a strong likelihood that you’re going to have quite a few people in and out.
If someone shows up, don’t let them in unless you had an appointment or knew they were coming ahead of time. Your contractor should let you know who’s coming and when. Ask for their full names so that you can then check their identification.
If you aren’t sure about someone, call your contractor or remodeling company to verify.
If you have an appointment or you’re expecting a contractor, still make sure that you try and schedule things for when you won’t be home alone, especially as a female. Secure your valuables and your medication, and have a plan to get out of a situation if it makes you uncomfortable.
A good rule of thumb is to have a separate entrance for family and members of the household and then for workers. This will keep the dust and dirt out of your main areas of use, and it will also reduce the likelihood of workers leaving tools or supplies around in areas that aren’t actually being worked on.
You should try to choose an entrance that’s closest to the construction area so that you can reduce the foot traffic in your home.
This might end up meaning that contractors are using your front door, and then your family uses something like a side or garage door.
Set Up a Play Area
If you have kids at home, you need to create a space where it’s okay for them to play, and you should also clearly define where they can’t play.
You might let your kids take over the dining room, for example or another area that’s usually for a different purpose.
It’s very important for everyone’s health and safety in your home that either you completely seal off the work areas with plastic sheeting or that your contractor does. You’re going to stop some of the dust and debris from getting into your current living areas, and this will help stop kids from wandering into work areas.
If possible, using safety gates can also be helpful. Even if your kids are older, these gates can let them know it’s definitely a no-go zone.
Pets have to be kept away from work areas for their safety and the safety of workers. If you’re going to have a pet at home during a renovation, you should let the workers meet the pet, especially if it’s a dog. This will help your dog get familiar with them.
It might be a good idea to have a closed room for your pet during the day. Ideally, this room might have access to the outdoors.
Some pets are very sensitive to noise, and it can be upsetting for them to be around a work zone. You might run a white noise machine, or if you think it’s going to create a lot of stress for your dog otherwise, you could take them to a doggy daycare.
If you have windows in the room where you’re keeping a pet, cover them, so they aren’t seeing strangers go in and out all day.
Finally, there’s always the potential that a pet can run away during construction if they slip out, so before you begin a project, make sure they’re microchipped.