I have two small children and wonder if there are ways to keep them safe during our home addition. We're adding a bedroom downstairs and my boys are too young for school. Is there a way to protect them from the work and dust without getting in the way of the contractors? We have allergies. Is there something to suggest to the builders?
Darlene K. ~ Kansas City, Missouri
Darlene, I understand your concerns completely. A home addition can take months to complete, and oftentimes the work needs to be done while your everyday life continues as close to normal as possible. Your situation is complicated further by the fact that you have two young children and have allergies. This means that you and your contractor are going to have to find ways to keep the construction tools(and the dust they produce) separated from the areas of the house where you and your children sleep, eat, and play.
I suggest that you voice your safety and health concerns to your contractor and come to an agreement about the condition which your home is to be left in at the end of every work day. This agreement should include the understanding that the contractor will vacuum up sawdust and remove construction debris from your home everyday, and it should require that all tools which are left on-site be kept in a locked storage container. I think it is also wise to agree on what hours of the day are available for workers to be in your house. Sanding the floors or painting the walls at 11 pm is just not an option when you have young children in the house that need to sleep!
I also suggest that you designate one door in your house as the sole entrance for all workers and tradespeople who are on the job. This can help to minimize the dust and dirt that can get tracked through your home during construction. I would also require the contractor to install a plastic sheeting dust barrier between the portions of the house that are under construction and those which you are living in.
Another way of keeping your children safe and comfortable during the construction of your home addition is communication. Tell your children that they must stay out of the way of the workers and can not enter into construction areas, and then anticipate that they will probably forget what you told them, because they are children. This means that your contractor will have to be vigilant about maintaining a safe work space and "kid-proofing"everything. A little extra effort on everyone's part can go a long way towards ensuring a safe and timely remodel. Best of luck!