Working from home during a bathroom remodel

Joan Fieldstone

May 28, 2014

By: Joan Fieldstone, Home Improv Advocate

In: General Remodeling

I love working from home -- at least once the pets settle down for their all-day naps. I can see a patch of blue sky laced with conifer branches visible through each of two small, square, clerestory windows bracketing my desk area. I can turn on whatever music I like, as loud as I like. And I answer to no one but myself.

I love it even more when the winter is over, like today when I can lift the sash and throw open the windows. The outdoor temperature is supposed to reach the low 80s. The air is fresh and clear, the neighborhood dogs are quiet and the construction crews putting up new homes across the street must be on their lunch break. I don't hear any hammering at the moment. Heavenly…

under construction home

Yesterday, the construction commotion made me think of a couple of friends of mine who also work from their homes and who have each recently gone through a bathroom remodel. One of them has posted on Facebook from time to time about the trials and tribulations of enduring a major remodeling disruption, including dealing with the trauma it has caused her pets. Being naturally curious about how anyone less dysfunctional than myself -- that would be basically everyone -- handles trying situations, I decided to ask them how they were able to stand the noise and mess in their midst every day for weeks while they tried to conduct business. They confessed to periods of frustration. Here's what they were dealing with and what they did:

Power and water outages

Because they both went through bathroom remodels, the biggest complaint was finding the water -- and the power -- turned off at inopportune times. Well…what isn't an inopportune time to find the power off when you're working? And when you work from home, you may have the luxury of working odd hours or taking a few hours off during, what for others is, the middle of the work day. G. came home from an exercise workout one day, sweaty and ready to hop in the shower, when she found the water off. J. got around the water shut offs by storing soapy water in the sink and leaving a bowl of clear water for rinsing beside it. She also made sure to shower and make tea before the workmen arrived…just in case.

Noise

Noise was a major issue. G. found it "earsplitting" when the backer board was installed, as well as when they cut the slate and travertine. J. suggested head phones and music to soften the noise -- and did not schedule conference calls on the days they were hammering and cutting tile.

G.'s dogs intimidated the workers, so she had to move her whole office set up to another part of the house and lock the dogs in a tiny room with her. They were still on edge because of the construction crew in the house. She said it was, "like trying to work with a batch of bickering toddlers." She bribed them to shut up by handing out bones. Finally, there were times she resorted to earplugs and occasionally took her laptop to a restaurant with Wi-Fi, and to Starbucks.

J. highly recommended working elsewhere during the demolition -- probably the noisiest, dirtiest part of the entire remodeling process, which brings us to the topic of…

Dust

Both J. and G. had great suggestions for dealing with dust, another potentially irritating consequence of any remodel.

demo home

During demolition, tarps, floor coverings, closing off all rooms, and placing towels under the doors helped to keep the dust under control at J.'s house. She said that dumping as much of the demo debris out the windows instead of dragging it through the house cut down on the mess, too. And she recommended storing dry-clean only items as far from the demo site as possible. G. had cutting, sanding, and other dusty jobs done in the garage, and the workmen were downstairs in rooms with doors to outside, so they didn't have to track any dusty debris through the house.

So what do they think now that they're on the other side of the construction phase? J. said the results were well worth the temporary inconveniences, while G. said that keeping her dogs from eating the employees was probably the biggest challenge. Planning ahead - for humans and pets alike - seems to be the key to keeping happy during remodeling.

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