Incurring Damage Amidst a Home Renovation

ByMarc Silberberg


Right now my family and I are undergoing a home renovation while living inside our home. True, this is not something most contractors love but they manage to deal with it. Last week the workers were getting the steps ready for a makeover. This involved removing the carpet, the underlay, and making sure that none of the steps were creaking. After the old railing was removed at the base of the steps, the walls were then evened out on both sides. All of this was done while kids were going up and down the stairs all throughout a summer day. It was quite a challenge for my family and also the workers that were constructing the new set of stairs.

But not always does construction go smoothly and good furniture and newly renovated areas can get ruined leading to endless frustration. Just think about it, you are trying to enhance your home and make it more livable and a careless worker leaves a chemical on a dresser or doesn’t use drop cloths when painting the walls. Little things like that could leave you with a bad taste and uneasy feelings towards the contractor you hired. 

We will discuss ways how you can avoid incurring damage from workers amidst a home makeover and how to deal with the contractor if your home does get damaged. It’s quite a challenge, because the last thing you want is to create a rift between you and your contractor smack in the middle of a job. There is always a good approach to claiming damage amidst a home makeover and going about in the correct way is critical to keep a good relationship with your current contractor. 

Don’t Expect Anything To Be Covered

Often we make mistakes in life by expecting a certain outcome and more often than not things don’t usually turn out that way. With that being said, make sure prior to any work being done in your home that you see to it that all the items that you don’t want to get ruined amidst the home makeover are either removed or covered. Workers are not always gentle and it’s likely for furniture to get ruined if not covered. That is why if the contractor is not on site don’t just look away, grab some drop cloths and start covering. If you can’t get your hands on drop cloths, use whatever you can find like cardboard boxes, plastic tablecloths, or anything that can serve as a protection against construction debris.

If there is something that is special to you such as paintings or pictures be sure to take them off the wall and put them away. Wrap them in either old towels, bubble wrap, or packing paper and put them up someplace high, away from where the work is being done. Oil paintings need to be carefully laid without any material coming in contact with the actual painting as it can sometimes take a year for the painting to completely dry. Also do not store them in the attic or area where the temperature can get high because the paint can melt and ruin the work of art. Best scenario would be if you can find another room to hang the painting, ensuring its safety.

Lighting Installation & Drywall Cutting 

When placing spotlights in one’s home, electricians will use something called a recessed lighting hole saw that makes the perfect hole for inserting the light flush with little to no adjustment. The installation process goes pretty smooth but boy does it make a mess. Drywall dust goes everywhere and is not an easy cleanup. Sometimes it can take weeks before all the dust gets out of the cracks between tiles and vinyl flooring planks. Even with the dust completely gone there can still be a remnant of a slight film that just may never go away.

It is for that reason that I recommend taking matters into your own hands and seeing to it that all is covered amidst any drywall cutting. Even a cheap plastic drop cloth that goes for a dollar can do the job and prevent a mess and unnecessary frustration. Stock up on them because they will come in handy throughout the home makeover. As the saying goes “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and this is very true when there is work being done in your home.

Paint Here, Paint There, Paint Everywhere! 

It’s time for your home to get a fresh layer of paint to enhance the look of the interior living space. Even the neatest painter will get little droplets of paint on the floor and furniture. Again, if the painter won’t cover the area well, take matters into your own hands and see to it that everything is covered. 

In our recent home makeover we first put in the new flooring (big mistake, paint and then install the flooring) and then had the rooms painted. Splotches of paint on brand new vinyl flooring could be found everywhere. The paint came in the form of drops, footprints, and a mixture of chunks of dried plaster. After seeing that a mop was not doing the job it was time to get down on my knees and scratch it off with a fingernail (it worked but not really practical). You never want to use something abrasive to remove paint from flooring because it can ruin the finish. I found that flipping over the bowl of a plastic spoon and using the tip to scrape away the paint was not rough on the floor yet tough on the paint to get rid of it without ruining the finish. Thereafter a regular mop would suffice to clear the loose dried paint. 

What To Do If Your Contractor Damages Property

No one anticipates this to happen but it’s important to know how to deal with property damage done by the contractor whom you hired to enhance your home. First, it’s important to know that home insurance doesn’t cover accidental damage incurred amidst a home renovation. It would be best to reach out to your contractor and see if they can remedy the situation. One should understand that there are always two approaches when dealing with people, the right way and the wrong way. In the case where damage was done to your property do not come across accusing or attacking because it will not work to your benefit. No human likes to be attacked, accused, or even criticized. Ask the contractor in a reticent way about if they happen to notice that such and such was done and if they have a solution to the issue at hand. 

At this point since no guns were drawn the only option is for the contractor to repair, replace, or refund. If none of those are an option legally you can file a claim through the contractor’s insurance (that is exactly why you use a licensed contractor). By law they have to give you the insurance information to let you claim damage against the insured party i.e. the contractor. If you are using a handyman that is not licensed you are at the will of the contractor and you might want to just absorb the loss in order that the contractor does not abandon the job. It is a hard decision but these days it’s really difficult to find a contractor that would pickup in the middle of a job.

Final Words

During our home makeover we had the loss of some linen and a dresser. The paint splotches eventually came off and I was certain to be on top of the workers that they cover floors and furniture for the rest of the project. One thing I took out of it is that don’t assume that anyone will care for the items in your home. You can tell the contractor hundreds of times and flooring and furniture still won’t get covered. Keep in mind it’s not him doing the work but it’s his workers who do not always share the same language. 

Keep your cool in a situation where your property was damaged and understand that in most cases the contractor will come up with a solution. If there is no remedy to the situation you can always put a claim into the contractors insurance but you really don’t want it to get to that point. The last thing you want is for them to stop the job because of damage to a painting or piece of furniture. Sometimes you just need to try your best or just absorb the loss in a scenario where you think the issue at hand will create a rift between you and the contractor. The best piece of advice is to see to it that all which is dear to you is protected to prevent any damage being done to your property. This way you will prevent the uncomfortable scenario of claiming property damage against the contractor that is in the middle of your home’s makeover. 

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