Getting work completed on a house but ya don't live there
October 20, 2021 7:44 AM   Subscribe

We want to paint the inside of our vacant house before we move in. How do we coordinate this in 2021 when we don't live there? We have two weeks between when the current sellers move out of our house and when we move in. We will be living 4 hours away in that interim. Do you hire agents to deal with this? What is this called? What does it cost?

Right now the interim plan is to have my parents come daily to let them in and they can hang out in the non painted areas (separate basement), but that's a roughly 90 minute round trip from their house. They might even stay there those days. This is likely 2-3 day job for painting.

I'm hesitant to do this mainly because its a new neighborhood and we won't be there, though, and they are older (upper 70s and 60s). The other option is for me to come down for those couple days and deal with it myself, but then I'd be leaving a infant and my wife.
posted by sandmanwv to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Our realtor had recommendations for contractors, AC, painting, popcorn ceiling removal, etc. We took their recommendations and our realtor actually put one of those little code lock boxes with the house keys on the front for us and then the workers were able to get it all done with us being remote. My parents have stopped by to make sure the long list of repairs were completed but other than that it was pretty hands off.

Also many work crews are specifically requesting no one be in the house while they are working because of COVID.

Are there any particular concerns you’re worried about?
posted by raccoon409 at 7:53 AM on October 20, 2021 [11 favorites]

Real estate agents generally have a list of people and companies they work with. Painters should be on the top of their list, because it's so common to have it repainted before listing or before the new owners move it. The agent should also be willing to pass along the key. If you don't have a real estate agent, I'd just find a reputable painting company and mail them the key. What are they going to steal? You can also ask for photos of the finished job so you won't have to travel to check on them.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 7:54 AM on October 20, 2021

It will be easier and faster for contractors to work on the place when no one is there. And living in a place being worked on is not fun.

My wife and I had our then-new place remodeled before we moved in. We were lucky enough to be living a 10-minute walk away, so after every day's work was over, we'd stop by and see how things were going. We were able to have some problems remedied much more quickly, and were able to come by for consults when the contractor had a question. So in your shoes, I'd want to be nearby, but not in the place.
posted by adamrice at 8:03 AM on October 20, 2021

Best answer: We took the lock box solution when we did this. The paint job wasn't perhaps exactly perfect (we had a short timeframe so the painter we hired was more of a handyman), but it was fine. We had vague worries about if he left the house unlocked but the appliances were old anyway and truly, it was fine. People who work on houses are used to locking up.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:09 AM on October 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

Have a keypad lock installed on the main door, add a code specifically for contractors, hire a reputable painting company, and when they're done your parents can stop by to confirm that the work is satisfactory and then remove their key code. That way the painters can come and go as needed as the work is being done without bothering your parents.
posted by mezzanayne at 8:24 AM on October 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

We did almost exactly this last winter. Maybe it's an obvious solution that you have decided you are not comfortable with, but we just gave a key to the painters and gave them a full run of the house. They dropped the key off at our real estate agency when they were done.

If the house is vacant, there's little risk of something getting stolen. And if the fear is that they could make a copy of the key for later nefarious purposes, there could be LOTS of keys out in the world already and so you'd be well suited to re-key the locks when you come in anyway.
posted by AgentRocket at 11:31 AM on October 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

I wouldn't recommend letting contractors into your house when both you and the contractors know that you won't be around to check on how things are going. This is a recipe for corner-cutting and shoddy work. (Disregard if you somehow know that the specific contractor won't do this...I know there are exceptions, but I've had this happen enough times that I just don't do it anymore, no matter how convenient it is for everyone.)

And even if they're not intentionally slacking, sometimes there are misunderstandings that can't be corrected without an in-person conversation at the property.
posted by nosila at 1:57 PM on October 22, 2021

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