Ah, the joys of living in a condominium – the convenience, the amenities, and the close-knit community. But, let’s get real for a second, we can all agree that renovations can turn our serene abode into a chaotic dust bowl faster than you can say “elevator bypass in effect.”

Picture this: you step out of your perfectly kept condo, ready to start your day, only to be greeted by the sight of workers bustling about, power tools buzzing, and clouds of dust swirling in the air. Yep, it’s condo refurbishment season, folks.

Freshly demolished tile with workers sweeping up as they go.

Renovations are necessary for keeping our beloved condos in tip-top shape and maintaining competitive property value and safety. But, let’s not kid ourselves – the dust and disruption can be a real headache. So, how can we survive the chaos with our sanity intact?

First things first, let’s talk about dust – the nemesis of every clean freak. Despite our best efforts, it always finds a way to sneak into our homes like an uninvited guest. But fear not, there are steps you can take to minimize its intrusion. Residents can Seal cracks around suite doors temporarily with masking tape, or, use draft stoppers such as a damp towel at the threshold. But they should know to remove them when work is done as air flow needs to be maintained; or else they are inviting more problems of a different sort!

Dust comes from a few different sources and stages:

  1. Plastering repairs and sanding the freshly skimmed surfaces, whether on the ceiling or on the walls.
  2. Demolition of tile. Much dust is sent up into the air.
  3. Cutting of tile during installation.
  4. Cutting of wood trim during millwork installation.
  5. Removing carpet if old adhesive and rubber residue needs to be scraped off.
Make the communication visual so there is no mistake that work is being done. Residents should use caution and be aware.

Air cleaners can also help and sometimes contractors can utilize them. However, it’s important to recognize that with negative pressure systems common in condos, some fine dust infiltration is inevitable. And makeup air units spread odour and dust floor to floor. So ultimately residents need to use dust reduction methods in their suites such as covering furnishings and keeping doors closed and/or sealed in the home where practical.

So, what about maintaining goodwill during those long, dusty days of renovation? Communication is key. Property managers and contractors should keep residents informed about the renovation schedule, expected disruptions, and any safety precautions they need to take. A little heads-up goes a long way in keeping tensions at bay. Handing out dust masks can be a welcome gesture to those with sensitive respiratory systems.

And let’s not forget our furry friends – our beloved pets can get anxious amidst all the commotion. To ease their stress, create a safe haven away from the chaos, like a cozy corner with their favourite toys and blankets. If necessary, talk to your vet about anxiety-relieving strategies or medications. And isn’t it a great motivation to take dogs out for extra long walks or drop them at doggy daycare for the day? A friend in the building on another floor might be willing to take a pet while that particular floor is being worked on. If the suite door needs to be left open in a suite – the resident must contain their pet for everyone’s safety.

Now, what about those of us with mobility issues, disabilities, or tiny tots in tow? Renovations can pose unique challenges for these groups, but with a little extra planning and consideration, we can ensure everyone feels supported. Property managers and contractors should provide alternative access routes for those with mobility issues and make accommodations for families with young children.

Clear communication and proactive problem-solving can make all the difference. Notices placed in elevators about which floor is being tiled for example, will prepare residents to exit on another floor. Those with wheels who can’t take the stairs might consider renting the guest room, or asking the manager to assist , working with the contractors to make a special path around their schedule. Remember too that condo construction only takes place during business hours so there is respite after 5 pm.

As for the elderly, they may require extra assistance during renovations. Simple gestures like offering to help carry groceries or checking in on them regularly can make them feel valued and supported during this disruptive time.

Contractors should make a reasonable effort to make their work clean and tidy, but also we can recognize that the more steps they go to for cleanliness the longer the project will take. A schedule should be set around a general cleaning level which can include tenting when cutting a lot of material, covering suite doors when special requests are made, using as low VOC compounds as possible, and helping the manager by giving warnings for the following week in regards to odors, noise and dust. Any tripping hazards need to be anticipated and marked. Workers are used to navigating a work zone but residents are not!

Brutal, but worth it: Before
Brutal, but worth it: During a dusty excavation
Brutal, but worth it: A sleek and modern After!

So, there you have it – surviving the dust and disruption of condo renovations with grace and goodwill. Remember, it’s all part of the process of keeping our beloved condos in top-notch condition. So, roll up your sleeves, dust off your coping mechanisms, and let’s weather this renovation storm together in the name of updated design and pride of ownership.