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I recently visited with a client whose home is under construction. She and her husband and their two young daughters had lived in their home for about 10 years before they contacted me a year ago to begin planning a major renovation to their first floor. They wanted to build an addition to house a new, larger kitchen and eating area and to expand their existing family room by a few feet. The existing kitchen and laundry/mud room would be used to create a new mud room, a bathroom with large shower, and a dedicated laundry room. Finally, they wanted to change their existing formal dining room into a first floor bedroom in case an ailing parent needed to move in with them.

Their design goals meant that almost every square inch of the first floor of their home would be torn up. The only room that would be left untouched was their living room. Luckily my clients were happy with the second floor of their home, which contains 3 bedrooms and two full bathrooms, so other than a change to a bedroom window to accommodate the roof over the addition and some new insulation, the upstairs would be mostly left alone.

Many clients choose to move out during the construction of such a major addition/renovation project. Moving out often means that the project can progress more quickly because the contractor doesn’t have to clean up so carefully at the end of each workday. Whether to move out during construction is often a difficult decision, though, because most people decide to renovate their existing home rather than move to a new home because they love their existing location or neighborhood. Also, remodeling is so expensive that it’s hard to find the additional thousands of dollars that it might cost to rent a place to live on a short-term basis while the contractors do their work, plus the funds to move their furniture and other essentials back and forth.

On my recent site visit, I was interested to see how my client’s family had adapted to living in one room (click on a photo to enlarge it):


My client’s temporary kitchen includes cabinets and a countertop from their original kitchen, their old fridge, a hotplate, and a microwave.


Opposite the temporary kitchen, my clients have a slow cooker that they use frequently.


The family’s couch faces the fireplace. The children’s craft table is on the right, in front of the sealed archway to the family room.


The family eats their meals at the round dining table. The room is accessed via the zipper door on the right side of this photo.



It’s always a good idea to check references before you hire a contractor to remodel your home. Here are some examples of good questions to ask:

  • What kind of work did the contractor do for you?
  • When did you work with the contractor?
  • Did the contractor provide you with a clear contract, including the cost and schedule for the work?
  • Did the contractor show up on time and work a full day? If the contractor didn’t work on your project for a period of time, did the contractor explain his/her absence in advance to you?
  • How did you communicate with the contractor throughout the process? Was the communication clear?
  • Did the contractor clearly explain changes to the project cost and/or schedule?
  • Did you and your family live in the home during the remodeling process? Did the contractor clean up at the end of each day so that your home was clean and safe? Did the contractor respect you, your children, your pets, and your property? Did the contractor help you modify your home so that it was comfortable and convenient for you to live there during construction?

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  • Did you have any surprises during construction? How were those handled?
  • Did you get the results you expected? Do you feel that the contractor’s work was worth the cost?
  • Did the contractor pull a building permit for the project? If so, did the contractor’s work pass the building department inspections? If not, why not?
  • If you had an architect, did your contractor work well with your architect?
  • Would you hire the contractor again?