Renovations are an exciting time. They are full of hope, anticipation and dreams of beautiful new spaces. But they are also annoyingly messy and stressful! Dust and fumes are two major health issues with any renovation project. Toxin filled dust is created during demolition, drywall installation, sanding, and many other renovation activities. Toxic fumes will abound from building materials, fixtures and finishes (unless you follow the healthy building material guidelines). Protect yourself and your family from the hazards of construction by following these key tips to maintaining a healthy living space during your renovation.
1) Seal off the construction zone
Renovation work leads to A LOT of dust, debris and fumes. Seal off the specific rooms you are working in by covering the doorway with a plastic sheet and taping it with blue painters tape on all four sides.
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Cool Tip: Buy an adhesive zipper (found at most hardware stores). Attach the zipper to the plastic sheet, then cut a line in the plastic along the zipper. Now you can get in and out of the room through the zippered opening.
If you are working in an area that does not have walls, create a dust wall with a large plastic sheet attached to the floor, walls and ceiling. Get creative with a frame to help support the dust wall by using 2x4's, a floor jack, ladders, or whatever else you have handy.
Once the room is secure, put an exhaust fan in an exterior window to draw the dust outside.
Put a door mat at the exit of the room to wipe your feet before leaving the construction zone.
Vacuum the construction zone ALL THE TIME with a HEPA filter vacuum.
2) Turn off your heating/cooling system
Minimize dust moving through your home by shutting off your ducted heating/cooling system and covering the vents in the construction area. You can easily tape a piece of cardboard over the vent to prevent dust from entering.
Once construction is complete, have your ducts professionally cleaned before turning the system back on.
3) Wear a respirator while working
As uncomfortable as these contraptions are, they are a must for demo jobs and for working with many building materials. Purchase a respirator with a HEPA filter to ensure the finest dust particles (the ones that do the most damage to our bodies) are being caught by the respirator.
4) read the manufacturer's instructions
Boring, I know. But following manufacturer instructions for building products will ensure that you are using the product as safely as possible. You might be surprised to find out that seemingly safe products can actually cause harm if you do not properly handle and install them, so always check the installation instructions first.
5) Maintain a family and personal space
This is where I went wrong on my first renovation project. We decided to start our renovation by redoing our kitchen. This meant that our living room became our kitchen, dining room, living room, workout room, play room, office, and TV room. I'm surprised we all made it out of that kitchen renovation alive.
Since we have a small house to start with, losing an entire room (especially one as important as the kitchen) took a big toll on our happiness while living through the renovation.
If you are renovating multiple areas of your house, I recommend being a little more strategic than I was before deciding which room to start with. Are you finishing your basement and also upgrading your kitchen? Then, if possible, do your basement renovation first so you have a new, finished family space to use during the kitchen renovation.
It is so important to make sure you maintain a peaceful space that is away from the chaos of construction. Renovations can be exhausting and frustrating, and if you don't have a place to escape the madness every day, you might lose your mind (speaking from experience here).
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