Construction survival tips for 950s-970s

Here is Gabriela’s question to the WCP community list, followed by the responses. My own take is that the procedures have been substantially refined, and were getting a few final optimizing tweaks in the 930s, so that things will go very smoothly for the rest of the clusters.
Harold, 932
Dear Neighbors,

Construction in the 950s is set to start next week and a few of us cluster neighbors have been gathering information from the rest of you.
We have all heard random collection of facts, good stories, horror stories, and some great tips (most are about how to keep dust out).

If any of you have some concrete advice, would you mind sharing?
1) What do you wish you had known or had done before the crews started at your place?
2) What do you wish you had done differently?
3) what is the best thing you did? Why?
4) What should not be done during this time? (leave clothes out in the open is one I heard, for example)

You can e-mail me directly or share with others. I’ll compile and send out to the 960s and 970s
Thank you for your time.
Gabriela, 951
What a good idea, Gabriela! I wish I’d known how nice the workers are; how hard they try to do their best, even as they don’t always succeed in doing the best work; how trustworthy they are; and how much simple words of appreciation meant to them. It would have buoyed me as I looked ahead to what has admittedly been a difficult process (which included having to redo part of the flooring in my study and all of the flooring we had recently installed in our utility room because we were flooded during the rains when we did not yet have our roof/drains in fully functional form). Had i known all this, it wdnt have taken me so long to realize that I need not be there when workers were in the house and cd just leave a key to the house with bob Landegger.

I also wish I’d known how difficult it would be for me personally to live in what mustache bobby calls “plywood purgatory.” I knew I needed light, but i didn’t realize how much! That part of the process, however, has a different impact on different people. It didn’t bother randy, and one of my neighbors almost liked it. And yr time in plywood purgatory shd be shorter.
I wish I’d known beforehand how responsive Gail and the rest of the board wd be in dealing with my issues. They were great, and that also wd have buoyed me.
Pets. That’s a tough one. We have been waiting to get cats until they are finished with us. I guess I’d try posting reminders everywhere (eg on all doors) to keep them closed because of pets. There are a lot of people moving arnd and doors will be left open otherwise.
Flents ear stopples. I’d lay in a good supply. I prefer wax. With those suckers, I was able to continue working at home the entire time, except for a couple of days.
Good luck!
Lk, 901
We had pictures fall off the walls when the noise and vibration was at its peak: I would take everything down.
Tom Turner #905
[Harold’s note: I think the prescoring of the stucco and levering out made the jackhammering of the walls almost unnecessary, so this may no longer be such a problem. But better safe than sorry!]
Indeed, I took everything off the walls including sconces and a hanging lamp. The utility rm was the worst affected rm by really heavy dust. I would wrap china cabinets in plastic to keep dust out. Be sure that everything is covered when the drywall is done because they are spraying paint.
Good luck,
Cynthia, 919
The workers are nice and try not to be invasive. But there are instances of hammering, therefore I will take things off walls, nicknacks off tables. You can ask contractors to cover your furniture and carpet with plastic to prevent dust. Our garage flooded during the rain because the deck was not well covered but they were quick to fix the damage. The darkness inside the house was a bit to long because work stalled in our cluster for about 4 weeks. Gail always responded to any problem as well as Bob, he is a nice guy. With scaffolding entering and exiting the house was difficult at times. Your unit will be done quicker than ours and I think that you will be fine.

On another note we decided to redo the tiles of our courtyard. I hired Jose who installed the tiles in our house. His price is reasonable to remove, install, buy tiles, and sealed them. If you prices I can send them to whom is interested.
Magda 906
From the 940s, freshly at work (still in week 2): By far the most dusty part has been the demolition of the tiles in the courtyard– LOTS of dust. This dust will find its way in at cracks you did not know you had. I would buy blue tape at Home Depot (Scotch “delicate” adhesive level if you want to protect inside paint) and tape every possible seam both inside and out. Also get yourself some plastic and use the tape to try to seal the utility room vents (and don’t forget to tape around the edges of the utility room door). I’m not worried about CO from the water heater. But that dust is very fine and will filter everywhere.

The next step will be removing stucco from around your deck door and the bottom of the deck area. then the deck surface will removed (and you will probably get a chance to see the back side of your garage ceiling). The stucco removal work generates a lot of dust. So again take precautions to tape the deck door (and certainly tightly close your bathroom window–maybe tape it too).

The noise is pretty bad, so you will want to plan a place to escape to. The stucco guys like to get under way at 7:30. Some workers are getting in position at 7:00. So no more lazy mornings.

We have protective plastic everywhere, and it is probably not really necessary, but I find it kind of reassuring.

The water testing of the roof drains went off (yesterday?) without a hitch. In general, the production line seems to be really moving along. I’m grateful to all who suffered before us.

John, 942
[note by Harold: I second John’s suggestion of using masking tape to seal door cracks. The contractors did this outside for some of the work, but the better sealed your doors are, the less dust penetration. I had some old fitted sheets that I stretched over nails around my living room & study courtyard doors, which worked well, judging by the dust on the doorknob and carpet strip at the bottom. I also closed my utility room door vents with plastic, and was glad I did.]
Thank you, Gabriela; and thank you neighbors for your helpful tips. Please keep them coming! I will be alone with our toddler and dog when construction begins on our unit (David will be traveling overseas) and anything we can do to prepare ahead of time will ease the stress.
Anna, 966

If possible, try to find somewhere that the three of you can take refuge from the noise during the worst of the stucco removal.    While adults and older children can use earplugs or other kinds of hearing protection, for a toddler or a dog, that isn’t really feasible.

It may be that by the time the “assembly line” process reaches your unit, the number of days for this phase has been greatly reduced from what it was for us in the 910s, but it will still be long enough that for a toddler or a dog, with their sensitive hearing, I think it could be quite traumatic.
Phill, 911
After reading everyone else’s posts I’d add this:
The various contractors try to do their best, which is very difficult with so many homeowners each with our own quirks. I tried to make interior access as easy as possible (by leaving courtyard door open or at least unlocked at 7:30am), and didn’t complain when I came home after they had gone (3:30/4pm) and doors weren’t locked. I just made sure I got there soon after and locked them myself. 4-5 different companies’ workers are going in & out, so it is impossible for them to know who will be the last one on any given day, or whether an owner is home. Of course this depends on your own security concerns, and how many valuables you have out in the open.

Also, I swept up the dust and remaining rubble from carport, ctyds on several days, which helps keep interior clean and removes stray nails (those especially after the removal of the old roofing).
Harold, 932

About hmarcuse

I've been an environmentalist since my college days in the 1970s (May 1977 Seabrook, New Hampshire occupation) , and am now a professor of German history at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
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