Drywall subcontractors smoking in house

lindsay221October 3, 2012

My husband and I are about 3 months into our build. Drywall just started today. We went over to the house for our nightly "inspection" and see an empty pack of cigarettes. Upon looking further, we see a shoebox full of supplies to roll your own cigarettes. Neither my husband or I are smokers. We're both actually quite sensitive to cigarette smoke. My immediate reaction was to call our builder and tell him this is unacceptable. Before I do so, I thought I would check in with GW and see if anyone else has experienced this. Am I overreacting? Is this par for the course with home building or should I say something to our builder?

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NO, you are NOT over-reacting....it is YOUR house! I am also allergic to smoke and I would put a stop to this immediately. If it were me, I would leave a note and say that no smoking is allowed...or make sure your contractor stops them.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 6:44PM
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We told our builders (before doing a large addition) that we didn't want anyone to smoke on site. (We also had a 'shirts on' rule.) They were fine with that. We moved out for 10 weeks during the work but stopped by regularly and didn't see any evidence of smoking.

Smoke smells can linger and be very difficult to get rid of. You need to make sure the builder is on board with this and can get the subs to agree without making them angry. Last thing you need is some hidden on purpose 'mistake' from an angry sub. If you designate a spot where they can smoke, maybe in a corner of the yard but not too close to neighbors, that might help. Put a large coffee can or similar out there for ashes and butts. And maybe a cooler with some water bottles... bribe them to go there if they must smoke.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 6:53PM
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Alex House

My 2 cents is that you're overreacting. Sensitivity to smoke absolutely requires a "presence-reaction" dynamic and the more dilution effect there is the less reaction there will be especially if the dilution leads to smoke residue levels below normal or even super-sensitized reaction thresholds.

Secondly, at this stage of the construction there really isn't that much in the house which will trap the smoke residue. No carpets, no furniture, no wallpaper. There's probably higher levels of various toxins in the paper of the drywall than in the smoke residue which may settle on the paper, which in any event will be painted over. The air changes taking place within the home, with doors open, with no heating, etc are flushing that smoke outside.

The time to have specified these requirements was at bid - that way everyone involved knows beforehand and the drywallers who are smokers could have avoided bidding on your home if they didn't relish the thought of suffering through nicotine cravings.

I disagree with Phoggie's position that you can demand anything because it's your house. Passing gas also releases gases into the interior of your home, so because it's your house should be demand that no worker pass gas while there?

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 7:24PM
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Good luck getting results!

We didn't ask for the "no smoking rule" till our house was sheet rocked and they were working inside on trim, cabinets, paint etc. They were asked not to smoke inside at that point.

One day I walked into my closet (where one of the trim guys was building our shelves) and I smelled smoke. He and I were the only ones in there. I asked him not to smoke and he had the nerve to say he wasn't, while his pack of cigs was sitting on a shelf next to him with smoke wafting through the air. My builder heard from me and he got after that crew, and we didn't have a problem after that.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 7:44PM
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ask them to have everyone smoke outside.
for me..once drywall is up..no smoking inside.
butts go in trash..not on ground. put a couple of
cans half filled with sand with a sign that
butts go here seems to work also.

can't imagine a shirts on rule..but we get
smoking hot (no pun intended) summers here.
half naked men don't offend me. would
actually make me take more time for
my inspections..LOL.

best of luck.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 8:20PM
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I agree that it is a little late to be making this specification. Our builder had the paint rule - no smoke once painting starts. Otherwise, smoke is pretty much gone prior to that.

Something about trim carpenters - they always smoke. I think people choose to do trim because a lot can be done with a cigarette hanging out of your mouth.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 6:38AM
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Thanks for the responses everyone. I agree that this is probably something we should have specified from the beginning, but to be honest it's not something that ever entered my mind. I called my builder last night and politely asked that he talk to the subs about not smoking inside. Outside is fine, inside is not. He was understanding, so we'll see how it goes.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 8:55AM
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Just asking them really isn't going to cut it unless you provide a designated smoking area. It's always amazed me that more houses haven't burned down when under construction as butts and sawdust and flammable products isn't the best idea from a fire safety point. Do the buckets filled with sand and provide a canopy to keep off the weather if it's about to turn nasty. Otherwise, no matter the "ban", you will have them smoking in the interior if it rains as they don't want to get wet anymore than you would in order to indulge their addiction. And do remember that nicotine is an addiction, so that's why you have to plan in advance to manage the behavior associated with that addiction. In the South, we have a "no spitting" rule for the guys who dip or chew. It's a surprisingly high number, as many have switched from cigarettes to oral tobacco so that they can indulge while working. That means they have the "spit bottle" in order to expel their tobacco saliva. TMI for you maybe, and really gross, but I've learned that the open spit container isn't something you want on site either. It's got to be a screw top bottle. No spitting in the trash, or using anything that can be accidentally turned over or leak. I'm firmly convinced that it is a far WORSE issue to have than smoking might be.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 9:40AM
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It's always something, isn't it.

I am not a smoker and don't really know anyone in my social life who is one either. So it never even occurred to me to think about this.....until I turned up at my construction site one day and saw several of the guys smoking. It annoyed the heck out of me but I decided not to say anything, for several reasons. (We had bigger fish to fry that day - snafus galore!)

It turns out the guys at my house were only smoking outside. Or, at least we never saw them smoking inside the house.

But now that I'm in the house, I'm picking up butts all over the grounds outside. Again, annoying. But in the grand scheme of things, I'm picking up all sorts of smaller-sized construction debris out there anyway.

I guess I would say it is one of those "pick your battle" situations. Frankly, if this is the worst problem you've had so far, I'm jealous. Ha-ha.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 10:28AM
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I'm an infill builder and no smoking is allowed in the house period. It's a fire hazard, a safety distraction and it stinks. Everybody's paid by the job and they can take all the breaks they want outside with their smokes. The bigger problem has actually been on-site drinking and MJ.

In the South, we have a "no spitting" rule for the guys who dip or chew.


Shirts on rule.

A Permissable Exception.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 7:11PM
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