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ADDITIONS: Surviving Your Room Addition

So you decided that your house needs expanding. This is a good way to add value to your home and

some extra breathing room. Whether it is a master suite, family room, sunroom, or bathroom, this is a

major project with many technicalities. You’ll need to hire a contractor to handle the many dimensions

of this work. You may be in for more than you realized, because you’re living in the construction site



The hardest part of surviving a room addition is having strangers invading your home for a prolonged

period. When you build a new home, you just move in when it’s finished. It is just you and your family in

your new home. Everything is clean and shiny, and it’s all so very exciting.


When you are constructing a new room, however, there are strangers walking in and out of your home

all the time. There’s going to be a lot of dirt. Your life and that of your family will be disrupted, thus

causing a lot of stress. How do you survive? Well, I did. I added a bedroom to my home and lived to tell

the tale. This is how.


The first thing to remember when you hire a contractor is: look for more than price. Find someone you

can work with. Your contractor is your partner in the project, and you must get along with your partner.

This relationship must be better than “you pay your money and you get your service” — it must be

based on mutual trust and respect. Your contractor, and his workers, will be in your home for a long

time. Therefore, if you get along well with each other, the work will go more smoothly. When problems

come up — and they will — you can solve them with a lot less stress. Take this into consideration, as

well as price, when you hire your contractor.


It is important to set down rules at the beginning. You are going to have people in your house from early

morning until late afternoon. They will need to eat lunch and use the bathroom. They will be near your

things, such as your television, computer, CD, etc. Your privacy will be totally invaded, simply because

they are there. In addition, when they tear down walls, build walls, put in floors, plumbing, and any

other construction work, a lot of dust and dirt goes throughout your home.


Here are some rules to consider:


Negotiate hours for the work day – you may not want workers in the house when your kids are going to


Decide if the workers can smoke in the house

Designate which bathroom the workers can use – you may not want workers walking all through the


Stipulate where you want the workers to eat their meals

If necessary, designate certain parts of the house off limits

Discuss with your contractor where the materials for construction should be delivered

Stipulate that the workers must clean up everyday, when they are done.


You must negotiate these rules before the work begins. Consider putting themin the contract. Some

of the rules are more important to specify in the contract than are others. For example, the rule about

cleaning up is very important; make sure it’s stipulated in the contract. The rule about where the

workers eat lunch can be discussed with your contractor and left at that. The bottom line is: if it is

important to you, put it in the contract. If something is in writing, it prevents misunderstandings.


As in all relationships, problems can crop up. If you have a problem with a particular worker, bring it

up with your contractor. He is the boss; therefore, he should handle it. I also found that if you treat the

workers nicely and with respect, you can avoid a lot of headaches. Offer them coffee and some cake or

cookies. You will be surprised what a little kindness and courtesy will do.


The stress of having all these people in your home may cause tension within your family. Speaking from

experience, just getting away can bring relief. If you can get away for a weekend, then that would be

great. If you can’t, then just going out to dinner can really ease your mind.


The last and most important key to survival is keeping your eye on the goal — a beautiful new room

with extra space to breathe.