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Preparing for home improvement work in your home

So, you’ve planned your renovation or home improvement, found your tradesperson and the job is scheduled to start.

To help you get ready, and make sure things so as smoothly as possible, here are the best ways to prepare for the arrival of your tradesperson (or tradespeople!) – from a bathroom or boiler installation to something bigger like as a cellar conversion. We’ll also suggest the best ways to manage your home once the work is under way.

Let them know where to park

Sign saying "permit holders only"

You could be hiring a plumber, gardener or a number of builders – but they will all have one thing in common – they’ll need to know where to park! Arrange a nearby space for them and let them know where it is. It could be the parking spot outside your house or in your neighbour’s driveway – as long as you have permission to secure the space and they avoid blocking anyone in. If your tradesperson is parked nearby it will save you, and them, time and money – and avoid the hassle of moving equipment and materials all over your neighbourhood.

Research (and order) products or materials you’ll need

Stack of wood

Do you need a new boiler? Or is it a new paint colour? Whatever you’re after, you should do some research to find out what your options are – for example, which type of boiler is most efficient and how to use bold paint colours to brighten up your home. Tradespeople can recommend and supply products for you, but if you don’t know what’s available then you may miss out on the best one for you. If you’ve confirmed that you’ll supply materials for the job, order them to arrive (at least) a few days before the job begins. That way you can avoid the hassle of rescheduling the job start date if there are delivery delays.

Let the neighbours know if your job will be disruptive

Two neighbours talking over the garden fence

If you’ve planned a house renovation that will be long, noisy or messy, it’s best to keep your neighbours up to date with the schedule and working hours. If you have difficult neighbours, give them your mobile so they can contact you directly about an issue, rather than hassle your tradespeople. The job will go a lot smoother if everyone is kept happy! If you’re planning an extension or landscaping job in your garden, you could speak to your neighbour(s) to see if they want something similar. It can make the process more harmonious if you both choose to have home improvements done at the same time, plus you may be able to share costs of materials.

Make sure pets and children are out the way

Dog sitting on dust sheet on sofa

When you’ve got tradespeople in to refurbish your home or garden, there will be a lot of mess and potentially dangerous tools or hazards around. For everyone’s peace of mind, make sure the area is clear of roaming pets or children – install temporary baby gates if necessary or think about leaving pets with friends or family. For large-scale renovations – are you prepared to live in a house that’s under construction? If the work is being completed in stages, for example – a kitchen and flooring refit downstairs followed by floor fitting upstairs, make a plan for living in the space you have available and be realistic. Is there space for the family to do the basics like washing and cooking? If you think it will be too overwhelming, think about hiring a caravan to live in temporarily, or staying at a family or friend’s house.

Clear out the space that’s being worked on

Room with furniture covered with dust sheets

For most jobs, such as bathroom and kitchen fittings or building and decorating work, you’ll need to make sure the room is completely clear. Remove furniture, or at least remove the contents from furniture (and cover with dust or polythene sheets) so things are easy to pick up and move around. Building, painting and decorating work produces a lot of dust and mess, so it’s best to remove curtains and blinds, wall decorations and furniture – to avoid damage and extra cleaning after the job is finished. If you’re having your floor refitted remove old flooring and have carpet grippers ready if they’re not part of the quote. For garden work, clear plant pots, ornaments and garden furniture.

Get a spare key cut and organise the basics

Key being handed to a builder

For large-scale projects where you’re not living in (or even if you are, but you’ll be keeping a different schedule to your tradespeople) make life easy for you and them. If they have their own key they can open and lock up on the pre-agreed working hours. Identify a space they can use for coffee and lunch breaks – with running water, a kettle and a fridge – so they can make everything on-site, saving time walking or driving to a shop. Let your tradespeople know which toilet they can use, or if necessary, order in a portaloo.

Clear up each day

Corridor being vacuumed

When you’re living with builders it makes life easier to stay on top of rubbish and waste. Use an old vacuum cleaner to clear up dust and debris from the day – it will make clearing up at the end of the job quicker and make living in the space nicer, especially if children are around. Ask your tradesperson to put the waste or recycling in a designated spot, so it’s removed on collection day.

Communicate with each other

Three people discussing a blueprint

Make time for a quick chat at the beginning and end of each day, so everyone knows what the status of the job is and for you or the tradesperson to ask or answer any questions. If you’re not available and your tradesperson is unsure how to progress with a job because something hasn’t been confirmed, there could be delays. Let them know the best time to call or give them a time you will be on site each day. Pre-agree on things such as working hours, breaks, waste disposal and where materials for the job should be stored and locked up.

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