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How to do construction with guests coming up?

Hi all,

I made a post about noise complaints and got some great advice. I have a duplex (3bed house plus 1 bed guest suite) and got complaints about noise and privacy issues in the guest suite. I blocked off 10 days in the main house and plan on renting a blower from Home Depot and cutting holes into the studs of some walls and filling with insulation over the course of two of the days.

In the meantime, unfortunately, the attached “guest suite” will be occupied. I can’t really change what day I do this, our airbnb is 2000 miles from where we currently live and this is the weekend I can get help from my handyman both days. Also and most importantly, the further this is delayed the bigger risk more guests have a negative experience staying with us.

I am also over the two days adding a privacy fence type deal so the guest suite will have more privacy going forward.

Ironically the goal of soundproofing and adding privacy will intrude on the noise and privacy of the guest who is staying their those two days. We do not need to physically enter their unit, we’d be working outside in front of the unit (which has huge blackout curtains to block us from seeing inside) and on adjacent walls to the unit (so they’d hear us cutting holes and blowing insulation).

What is the best course of action here? We are new hosts and just trying to scramble to fix issues we never expected early on like this. Should we message the guest and give them a heads up? Offer them money? Just call AirBNB and have to cancel?

For what its worth, this is a quiet mountain town where most people get up early to go hiking all day. I’m hoping the guest won’t even notice us but I’m sure working 9-5 it could easily happen.

Thanks and appreciate your advice

Tell the guest of your intentions and ask if it will impact on their stay.
See how they respond and go from there.


To add to @Debthecat ‘s statement:
Explain the hours of work and that the blower will be close & loud. Also if it will impede access to their rental or use of any amenities.

If your cancellation policy is strict, you may wish to mention something like, “Ordinarily this reservation has a Strict cancellation policy meaning no refunds. However if you decide to book a different rental, I will authorize a refund for your stay.”


Thanks guys. What is AirBNBs policy on this stuff? Am I technically supposed to notify them so they can cancel the guest?

If I offer the guest a refund because they no longer want to stay, doesn’t that mean id have to cancel on my end and be penalized or is there an exception for “emergency construction” type scenarios? I’ll do some searching on airbnbs site but sometimes they say one thing but implement it another

Had an emergency sewer line replacement, no consequences from Airbnb for the cancellation. Stuff happens……

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Do you really mean that you will cut holes into the studs? Or do you mean spaces between studs?


Don’t get too ahead of yourself. Let the guests know what’s going to be happening, don’t try to make it sound less disruptive than it might be, and see how they respond. They may have plans to be out all day, or be easygoing folks who won’t mind a bit of noise and commotion for a couple hours a day when they might be at home when you’re working. And you don’t have to work from 9-5 either. If the guests are early risers and are up and out the door at 8, you could start at 8 and end at 4. Or if they plan to go out for dinner, but like to laze around in the morning, start at 11 and work til 7.

Offer to fully refund them if it’s a deal breaker for them, or offer a bit of a discount for the inconvenience if they seem a bit wary but aren’t saying no way. Then if they do want to cancel, you could contact Airbnb to see if they would consider it an EC, or just ask the guests to cancel and give them a full refund, including what they paid in service fees.

You don’t mention how long the guests’ booking is for. If they are staying for a week, they might be just fine with keeping the booking if you knock off an entire night’s rental cost out of the full week.

if you can avoid involving Airbnb, that would be ideal.


You need to advise the guests and offer a penalty free cancellation if they don’t want to stay.

How is it an emergency issue . You choose to do non emergency work when you had guests staying to suit you and your handyman.

If I lived 2000 miles away I would have a local co-host so they could book the work in around when guests aren’t around.

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Can you sweeten this. Tell them and perhaps offer a gift certificate for a local restaurant or local attraction. If they are people who tend to be out all day they might not mind. A partial refund or free future stay could also work.

thanks for the reply.
I considered it “emergency” because we suddenly found out there’s an issue of noise transfer and privacy between the units that would cause negative experiences for guests. This is a pretty honest mistake, this is my first time doing real estate or AirBNB, and we invested 100k into remodeling the house, but obviously this is one thing we missed.

I would prefer to do this when no one is there, but the place is basically booked solid till December. If I waited till December to do these fixes, it’s possible many more guests will have negative experiences.

FWIW, I dont care about refunding their money if they wanted to cancel. I just wasn’t sure the best protocol here. If these fixes dont get done, many more people would have to get refunded potentially anyway because they can’t sleep due to noise issues.

I have a local team who could do this without me being there, that’s not the biggest point although it is a small factor.

I meant “between” the studs :slight_smile:

thanks, this helps a lot in getting a feel for what my approach should be

I always make sure I leave regular spare days in-between bookings for deep cleans and maintenance areas @tawytf

I don’t Airbnb would agree with your definition of it being an emergency under its EC policy for hosts.

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Lessons learned. This is my first month operating and learning everything as I go

Making changes in order to ensure that your guests are not disturbed by noise from the other unit, complain, and leave a negative review, is in no way an emergency repair. An emergency is the plumbing springs a leak, the heating goes on the blink when it’s cold out, a tree branch falls on the roof and causes it to start leaking, etc.

The fix you are going to do is no different from changing the door lock because some guests were finding it difficult to use, and complained about it, or adding a closet because guests complained there wasn’t adequate space to hang clothes. Not an emergency.


I would tell them about it and let them stay for free. Or, if they don’t want to stay, give a full refund which will be started by you calling airbnbn. Either way you don’t deserve the money because it is your choice to disrupt the booking, and it will look bad almost whatever you do, except lying.

@muddy is correct. You’re arranging the construction at your own convenience if I’m understanding correctly so no extenuating circumstances there.

Whenever I’ve had unexpected construction the guests in situ have been great and really understanding but by that time we already have a relationship. Again, if I’m understand correctly, this is a future guest you don’t know?

I’m looking at it from a guest’s point of view and if it was me, I’d prefer to have the opportunity to cancel.

For the couple of days you’ll be doing the construction, I’d prefer to have no guests at all but use the construction days to get other odd jobs and deep cleans done at the same time.

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Thanks for the feedback.
It looks like we won’t be doing any insulation as I’ve learned that won’t be effective and most walls have insulation anyway.

In this case the only thing we’d be doing is adding a privacy screening. That would involve making some noise on the outside of the unit as we lay out and possibly drill a little into concrete. I’m guessing it won’t take more than 4 hours at most.

I’m planning on giving the guest a heads up and seeing how they feel. I’m fine with a refund but want to understand my options. Who would do the cancelation, would I do it from my end? And would I initiate that through calling AirBNB to tell them of the situation?

I’m also considering just refunding the guest for half a nights stay when I message them. There’s almost no one who sleeps in here. Everyone gets up early to hike so I’m guessing they probably won’t mind.

No, have the guest do it. It really sounds as though you won’t have a problem as long as the guest knows in advance.

For a few hour’s work, when the guest might not even be there, I wouldn’t give any discount or refund. As @Christine_Shirtcliff said above, give them a gift card to a local restaurant saying "thanks for being so understanding - please have dinner on me’. :slight_smile:

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