Remodeling a home for your growing family is an exciting investment in your future. You love your neighborhood and know your home has protentional—it just needs a little updating or modifying to work best for your day-to-day. As you decide whether it’s best to stay in your home or find an alternative living arrangement during your remodel, you’ll want to consider several factors.
Remodeling is all-consuming and can be a stressful or disruptive experience, especially when you have children or a baby in the house. The construction process is often noisy and dangerous for little ears and sleeping minds. Our company typically recommend families move out during a home remodel. It’s safer, allows you to keep an uninterrupted routine, and helps your construction crew stay focused on producing quality work.
We know moving out during a remodel is not always a possibility though, so on occasion we do work with families who need to stay in their home. Maybe it’s an addition to the back of the home that is away from the major living areas, or a basement remodel that will minimally affect the rest of the home. If you do choose to stay in your family home during the remodel, there are several steps you can take to minimize disruptions and keep your loved ones protected.
Safety Comes First
If you already have children, or are expecting a newborn soon, your family’s safety should be your top priority when remodeling your home. Be sure the contractor you hire will take all the necessary precautions to protect your family, pets, and property. Those precautions should include thorough site protection to minimize dust and debris, cleaning up the job site daily, and storing tools and materials in a secure (and preferably inaccessible) place. You’ll also want to discuss with your contractor a plan for preventing accidents, ensuring developmental safety and making healthy upgrades to construction materials.
Check that your contractor has a valid business license in your city and insurance to protect you in case of an accident. Getting the remodel permitted also ensures extra sets of eyes on your project, reducing the short and long-term possibility of problems.
Instruct your toddlers and older kids to always stay away from the work areas. Educate them on the importance of staying safely out of the way. Ask your contractor to use caution tape and be particularly mindful of any fall hazards. Ensure that your children know what the caution tape means and will respect any rules you give them.
Protecting Your Children
When it comes to developing children, a remodel can affect a child in many ways from the noise they hear to the air they breathe. Prepare your family for a remodel with earplugs and noise-cancelling headphones. Framing and roofing are two of the loudest parts of a remodel, so ask your contractor when those stages of the project will take place and try to spend as much time away from home as possible. Perhaps that’s the perfect time to schedule a family vacation!
Know going in that it’s nearly impossible to mitigate all airborne dust and chemicals during a remodel. During demolition of an older home (pre-1978), it’s possible dangerous contaminants like mold, lead, and asbestos could be unintentionally released into the air. Testing for contaminants and hiring a certified abatement specialist is the first step, but construction always brings with in a possibility of accidental exposure. It’s best to completely vacate the home during that time.
During the rest of construction, some amount of dust is likely. HEPA filtration, negative air machines and quality site protection will help greatly. You can ask your contractor to specifically use water-based products and low or no-VOC sealants and paints to avoid off-gassing, but some products may not have healthier alternatives. The best way to keep your indoor air quality safe during a remodel is to make it a topic of discussion with your designer and builder.
Timing is Everything
When remodeling your family home, it’s essential to consider the timing of your project. Asking your busy contractor and tradespeople to work around things like homework or naptimes is not practical. Since children cope with home remodeling in different ways at different ages, here’s what we generally recommend:
If your children are in school, you should consider scheduling your remodel during the schoolyear, when they will be out of the home for most of the day and can be in after-school programs as needed. Conversely, if you have children who are homeschooled or doing distance learning try to schedule your remodel during the summer months when school is out. Taking this step will reduce disruptions to your kids’ daily routines and give you more time to focus on the remodel.
Newborns & Infants
If you have a newborn or infant, we generally recommend you wait to do any major remodeling. Life with a newborn is unpredictable enough. You don’t need the added stress of a busy and changing home environment. If the project is already underway or scheduled, we do recommend you move out during a remodel so you can truly be present for your new baby during that transformative time. Any exposure to construction sounds, sights and smells is not recommended for a newborn or infant. While the hum of a circular saw might sound a lot like your white noise machine, you just never know how a baby will react to the sounds of construction.
If you’re expecting a baby, we recommend you wait until well after they are born to remodel. This is especially true if you have a large project in mind. Remodeling can often uncover unexpected issues with your home, such as plumbing that needs to be upgraded, rotting wood, or other obstacles that could require extra time and money. Pressuring a contractor to finish working before your due date is stressful for both you and your builder. Rushed work is not something you want to settle for after making such a large investment in your property!
Pregnant and nursing mothers should take extra precautions around a construction site to avoid harmful dust, toxic fumes and hazardous noise exposure. If possible, pregnant persons should postpone any major home remodels, or find alterative housing while a remodel is in progress.
Get to Know the Crew
If your kids are like most, you’ve taught them to avoid strangers. Once you’ve gotten to know your construction crew, alleviate your children’s concerns by introducing them to those working in their home. Once you do, your children should feel more comfortable having strangers in the family home and less anxious about the remodeling process itself. Many of our crew members are parents themselves, and absolutely love to develop a rapport with families they are working for.
You can use this opportunity to explain to your children how the remodeling process works. Many children love playing with their own, safe, construction toys during and after the remodel. It’s a fun way to keep them involved and make a connection between playtime and the real world.
Give Kids Choices
Another way to ensure all your remodeling objectives get met is by involving older children in the decision-making process. You may consider asking your kids to choose the paint colors, furnishings, or décor for their new bedroom, bathroom, or basement recreation area. Letting your children make some of the design decisions will give them a sense of ownership and make them feel more involved in the remodeling process.
Maybe you don’t want to transform your whole basement into an indoor playroom, but maybe you do! Adding something like a small climbing wall, a reading nook or sibling bunk beds may not add much to the overall budget but could be very valuable to your child’s excitement about the project.
Hire Professional House Cleaners
Once the remodel is completed, we believe it’s essential for your family’s health and safety to hire professionals to deep clean the entire house. A professional cleaning job will ensure that all potentially harmful debris, dust, and other contaminants are eliminated from your home. There are many local cleaners who use non-toxic cleaning supplies and will make your new remodel spotless.
While you’re at it, consider having your HVAC ducts cleaned to remove any dust or debris that may have accumulated during the remodel. At Model Remodel, we always try to mitigate dust by closing and sealing ducts during a remodel, but duct cleaning is still recommended. Typically, it’s been a while since the ducts were cleaned, if ever. Post-remodel is the perfect time to start fresh.
Final Thoughts About Remodeling with Kids in the House
In summary, remodeling a house with children or babies present can be a challenging experience for any parent. However, with the right planning and preparation, it is possible to minimize disruptions and keep your family happy and healthy throughout the entire remodeling process.
Prioritizing your family’s safety, scheduling the remodel at a convenient time, introducing your children to the crew, letting older kids make some choices, and getting a deep professional cleaning at the end are all ways to ensure your remodel is everything you’d hoped for and more!
How to Hire the Right Home Remodeling Contractor in Seattle
Although planning a long-awaited home remodel for your growing family is exciting, finding the best remodeling contractor for your project can be daunting. We hope you’ll consider our team at Model Remodel. We are a family-oriented, friendly bunch of people who want to help families love where they live. From attic conversions to basement remodels, to larger home additions and whole house remodels, we can help you design and build your dream family home.
To get started, tell us more about your ideal home via our online form.