Keep Your Family and Pets Safe During a Remodel

huighcraft truckWe often think about safety when it comes to Fourth of July fireworks and festivities, but what about when it comes to a major remodel?

Power tools, piles of lumber, temporary stairs, plastic sheeting and dirt piles. A construction site is often a kid and pet magnet. To children, it can look as enticing as a playground. To pets, it’s something new to investigate. For you, the thought of an updated living space is exciting, but handing a contractor the keys to your castle may be unnerving.

Here are some tips to keep your family safe if you plan to live at home during a remodel.

Communicate Often
Manage expectations by maintaining good communication with your contractor. Ask them to explain the production schedule. Establish set work hours. Talk about access to keys and which subcontractors will be in your home each week.

If you have children and pets, introduce them to the project manager or foreman. Let the contractors know if any are mischief-makers. Contractors are not babysitters, but it’s reasonable to ask that they keep an eye out in case a young child or pet accidentally slips into harm’s way.

Restrict Access
Homeowners should play an active role in keeping their kids and pets out of the work area. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) recommends designating a play space away from the work site, and explaining to your children the areas that are off limits. Tell your children to never touch building materials or the contractor’s tools. When at home, help pets feel more secure by giving them extra attention, and by keeping them in a familiar room, backyard enclosure or kennel crate away from construction.

At the end of each workday, be sure your contractor secures tools, materials and any potentially dangerous areas. Remember that your house is changing every day during a remodel, so think twice before walking around in the middle of the night.

Control Hazardous Materials advises homeowners to be aware of potentially toxic materials on the job site. Have your contractor test for lead paint, mold and asbestos in advance of any remodel and be sure any issues are professionally abated.

Some adhesives, paints, strippers and sealers can emit volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. Make sure the work area is properly ventilated, or use zero- or low-VOC products, to minimize off-gassing.

Although good contractors use plastic sheeting or tarps to minimize drift, extra dust is almost always present at every remodeling job site. Don’t forget to change your HVAC filters frequently to keep dust in check.

Change the Locks
No matter how much you trust your team of contractors, it’s always a good idea to have an independent locksmith change your locks when the work is over. If you shared a security system password, then change the code for peace of mind.

Even the safest major remodel can be messy and may seem a little chaotic. Consider taking a vacation, or staying with family or friends, when noise, disruption and safety concerns reach their peak. Just remember the safety issues are temporary, and the end result will be a beautiful living space in a newly remodeled home.


An excerpt of this full content originally appeared in Dwight’s and Bryan’s July 2015 Building Solutions column, “Keep your family, pets safe during a remodel.”