10 Steps for Scheduling MEP on a Rehab

So, I locked myself out of the Kenwood house today. Not my brightest moment. The very front door no longer has a key, we’ve been locking the 2nd front door behind it. The 2nd front door was removed apparently. I was knocking on the door as a futile effort since everyone in the house is knocking on things, I then tried to get in the back fence door where they blocked it with something smart, was throwing all my body weight against it when one of the plumbers opened the fence door and I went crashing into the yard…that was our first introduction. Thanks, here’s your coffee – cream?

Backing up to Monday, I walked in to loud noises upstairs – what a relief from the last two weeks. When I went into the kitchen, I found the plumber, Tomas. He was staring into the basement with his hands in his pockets. Awkward. I introduced myself, he introduced himself. I asked him if he needed anything, he said no. I asked if Sebastien was downstairs, he said no. I paused for maybe 5 seconds. Then I went upstairs to see Sebastien leveling the 3rd floor:


Oooh, pretty! He uses a laser to level it – it’s pretty awesome to watch, actually. AND! He reinforced the ceiling so that we can now get 8-foot ceilings on the 3rd floor!


So, we go over this week’s agenda (leveling 2nd floor, leveling 3rd floor, framing for plumber). I asked him if he knew what the plumber was waiting for, he looks confused and says no.

I then go back downstairs to find the plumber in exactly the same position.

Ally: “Are you sure you don’t need anything?”

Tomas: “No, thank you.”

Ally: “Are you waiting for Robert?”

Tomas: *confused look* “No?”

Ally: “Do you have all of your equipment?”

Tomas: “Yes?”

Ally: “Okay, good. You’re staring far away and I’m not sure why.” *smile*

Tomas: “Oh! Yes, sorry. I am thinking about how all of the pipes are going to run through this house. I need to make sure I don’t get to the 3rd floor or something and find out I need to do another room I’ve already done differently, you know?”

Ally: “Ah, yes. I get it. Carry on.”

It’s now Tuesday. I walk in and Sebastien tells me he thought the plumber was coming back today. Now begins the dance of scheduling. Here’s the thing with MEP: they are lovely technologies, they are difficult to get coordinated. Plumbing and Mechanical (HVAC) need to communicate because they need square footage (pipes and ducts), Electrical needs to come in towards the end of Plumbing and Mechanical, Audio-Visual needs to be there after Electrical is started and before Electrical is done. Also, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, they HAVE to complete their scope all in one push. Otherwise, it’s near impossible not to make mistakes. Let’s also remember that we have to have the City inspect and approve M, E, and P individually – different inspectors. How long does it take for the City to acknowledge your existence? That’s right, 4 days. How long does it take for the City to come out for you? Hmm, maybe 2 weeks…maybe 3. You cannot put drywall up until the City has approved everything in your walls. Basically, if we don’t schedule this carefully, we will end up with an empty house. Again.

Oh, that’s right, it’s also 2 weeks before Christmas….and I’m leaving for 3 weeks to go to Switzerland for Christmas.

So, if you’re trying to successfully and flawlessly coordinate the most hectic and stressful part of your rehab, here are some tips:

1. Assume each scope (MEP) will take 3 weeks.

2. Require that each contractor does his/her scope all at once, not 2 days here and 1 day somewhere else. You want to see their slightly patronizing smiles everyday for 3 weeks.

3. Give each contractor 2 days on the job to get comfortable and then ask for a definitive finish date to schedule inspection.

4. Whatever that date, schedule the inspection. You can always delay your inspection, you can’t make it earlier.

5. Plumbing goes first.

6. Mechanical comes in on the 2nd or 3rd day of Plumbing.

7. Electrical comes in a week after Mechanical starts.

8. AV comes in during the 2nd week of Electrical.

9. Pay attention to how your contractors get paid, and pay them correctly. For example, my plumber gets paid per milestones completed (Initial deposit – $$, Basement rough-ins completed and inspection approved – $$, PVC completed – $$, Copper completed – $$). If they require initial deposits, you had better have that with you on the first day. Don’t start off on the wrong foot.

10. Be available. Inevitably, there will be some changes needed and framing moved. Make sure you can get there to give them direction and approval to move forward. Otherwise, they wait. You know what time equals.

I made a specific schedule for December to coordinate:


It would have been more colorful; unfortunately, I ran out of Cyan ink.

Based on these steps, this is why Tomas didn’t come back on Tuesday. I told him to start when he could be here everyday until he’s done, we agreed on Friday. After my dramatic entrance, I spent an hour and half walking through the house with him and Sebastien, deciding what we could and could not move to accommodate his piping. We also decided that the mudroom floor needs to be raised:


…which means the south wall of the new powder room needs to be redone:


Let the fun begin!

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