Ask anyone who owns a home about a time they wished they rented and they’re likely to tell you about a renovation. Home improvement projects are notorious for being disruptive, but in the end most people are happy with the results.

As apartment owners, our priority is the satisfaction of our residents. After all, happy residents are likely to renew and recommend us. We do everything in our power to provide them with a home that exceeds their expectations. But sometimes, just like when you own a home, your property needs an upgrade.

Renovations must be made. And they don’t always fall neatly into that window of time between leases.

To manage a major or minor renovation while keeping residents calm requires a bit of juggling, but we don’t hire clowns to distract or entertain them. The most important thing we do is provide great communication. People’s willingness to be patient is always expanded when they know what’s going on. That means we must give them clear communication and follow through with what we say. I like to follow the advice Roy T. Bennett gave in his book, The Light in the Heart: “Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity.”

Good communication starts with good project planning. The more planning we do up front, the easier it is for residents.

Ideally, we make any project as quick as possible. Quick usually equals less painful.

If quick isn’t possible, the next best case is to figure out how to do a renovation or repair during the turnover between residents.

And then there’s the less desirable but ultimately possible scenario with big projects, especially ones that aren’t just limited to one unit. That’s where our planning and communication skills kick into high gear.

For instance, when we want to retrofit an older building with washers and dryers in each unit, we need to install plumbing throughout the building so the connections are in place to add the machines. If necessary, we can move someone into another unit. But we’ve managed full unit renovations over three or four days with residents in place.

Residents are usually pretty happy when they get their own laundry equipment or a new kitchen. They’re even happier when we help them move their stuff from one space to another in their unit and manage to keep their old refrigerator running somewhere until their new one is ready and they can switch over their food.

While those few days are a little inconvenient, we make it as painless as possible. And when do our communicating right, our residents are just as pleased as homeowners when the work is complete and they can enjoy the results.