Renovations in the Nine Days

What kind of renovations aren’t allowed during the Nine Days?

By Rabbi Chaim Hillel Raskin, Rov of Anash in Petach Tikvah.

Halacha states that once the month of Av begins, we must decrease in joyous activities, including joyful construction, such as a “wedding home” or adding decorative moldings to any home. While some apply this prohibition to the construction of contemporary wedding halls, others point out that today’s hall owners have no personal joy associated with the building, unlike in Talmudic times when a house would be constructed especially for one’s child’s wedding.

Painting a home shouldn’t be done during the nine days and one shouldn’t either attach wallpaper. Some write that painting furniture is likewise prohibited.

One may not plant flowers, trees or grass for beauty during these days, though one is allowed to do regular activities to keep the flowers and trees alive. Fruit trees may be planted.

One may not have a non-Jew do any of the above prohibited forms of work during this time if he is being paid per hour or per day. If he is being paid a set price for the job and he was hired before the Nine Days and he chooses out of his own preference to do the work during this time, it can be allowed. Yet, one should try to convince the non-Jew to postpone the work for after the Nine Days, even if it means offering him some extra pay.

Though home expansions for the mere purpose of having more space aren’t allowed, building for non-joyous purposes is permitted when the circumstances are dire. Thus, if one’s family grew and one needs another room, or people are about move into a house or apartment and it needs renovation, it is allowed, since it is not being done for joy but for need. The same applies if a wall needs painting due to discoloration from a leak.

Building for business purposes, to rent or sell, is also not considered for joy and is permissible. Building for communal mitzva-related purposes is permitted, thus a shul may be built or expanded during this time. The same applies to schools, yeshivos or any communal buildings.

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