One of the stories I am publishing this week is on the importance of a clean building site. I asked several of the experts who blog for ProudGreenHome to share their thoughts on the subject. The answers weren't a surprise to me, both as editor of ProudGreenHome and as someone who has had a home built.
I embarked on a homebuilding journey in August 2006. The build only took eight months, but it sometimes felt like an eternity as each contractor encountered numerous delays. Many delays were understandable, but some were the direct result of dealing with a messy building site. Lumber and shingles and nails and screws were tossed haphazardly around the site, leaving the trim contractor once taking three days just to find one small piece of misplaced trim for the stairwell.
The homebuilder I hired to build my home was new. My home was only the third he'd ever built. I initially found his lack of experience refreshing, but before the home was built, it became quite a liability. I owned the land on which my home was built, so the builder and contractors were literally working for me, on my land. Yet no one seemed to feel any obligation to keep the site clean. I continually found empty food bags and soda cans, cigarette butts and general filth inside and around my future home.
Indoor air quality mattered to me, so having contractors smoking within the home, especially after drywall was in place, was a major concern. I voiced this worry to the builder, and he said that the smell would go away before carpet or flooring was installed. I also worried about drywall dust and sawdust gathering in the open ductwork, but again, the builder said not to worry. Since this was my first build as well, I didn't want to complain any further.
However, the final straw was when the home was supposed to be ready for move-in condition and there was drywall dust throughout the home. The top of my kitchen cabinets were coated in a thick layer of white dust and bits and pieces of electrical wiring from the lighting contractor who had departed the site weeks earlier. Stickers were still present on the dozens of windows throughout the home. Cabinets throughout the home were dusty. And the windows were all covered with greasy smudges.
I asked the builder to clean the home before I paid the final 10 percent of the contract, and he balked. He said he was busy on other projects, but he'd come back to clean even if the final portion of the contract was paid. With a signing date for the mortgage already set, I went ahead and paid the final 10 percent and waited a week for him to clean the home. He never did.
A month after move-in, I hired someone to thoroughly clean the house when the builder ignored my calls. And to this day, there are still random nails and screws popping up in the backyard. Not exactly a safe setting when children and pets are playing in the yard.
So, a clean building site wouldn't have solved all of my problems with the builder, but I'll save the rest for another story another day.
Teena Hammond has published more than 2,000 articles in People and W magazines, Women's Wear Daily, and in dozens of newspapers and books. She also wrote a home improvement, remodeling and decor column that ran in Gannett newspapers nationwide. She's interested in all things green and would love to hear from you with your story ideas.