Home renovation can easily turn into a nightmare if you and your contractor don’t see eye to eye. You end up feeling like you have to constantly micromanage the project in order for it to be completed within a reasonable amount of time, your contractor doesn’t seem too invested in the success of the renovation, and there is dust and trash everywhere. Ensuring smooth relationship with your contractor based on mutual understanding and open communication channels will save you a lot of time, money, and sanity. So, here are a few tips to establish such efficient working relationship.
1. Start at the selection process
Hiring the right contractor will already alleviate a lot of pain associated with remodeling. However, it is more than “clicking personalities” or a “vibe” that you get from a potential contractor that instills trust. There are a few things you absolutely must ensure before making your decision:
- Is the contractor licensed?
- Does he have any references?
- Does the contract have insurance? You certainly don’t want to have to pay astronomical medical fees if someone on the crew gets injured while on the job.
- Does he stick to deadlines and respond promptly? If a potential contractor promises to send you a proposal within a week, but you receive it much later, that’s a red flag.
- Does the proposal make sense? Contractors are used to homeowners not necessarily having a full understanding of the process, what it involves, the jargon, and the costs. A reliable contractor will make an effort to make his proposal as transparent and itemized as possible.
2. Agree on some basic rules before any work commences
It is crucial for a smooth homeowner-contractor relationship that each party understands some ground rules that frame the project:
- Communication mode: what is a regular mode of communication (email, texts, or calls) vs urgent?
- If the other party is unavailable, who is the next best person to get in touch with in case of an emergency?
- Work hours, including on weekends
- Approval process: if there are any deviations from the original contract, such changes should be approved in writing to guarantee a track record
- Payment schedule: devise both payment milestones and payment mode.
3. Be considerate of the crew’s needs
Do you have a bathroom designated for the crew to use? Are working conditions adequate? For example, during a hot season make sure to stack up on plenty of cold refreshments. Make sure that for the period of renovation you have a plan in place for your children and pets. Either one running around can be stressful for contractors and their team as they have to be overly cautious of every action.
4. Your contractor is not an architect/designer
Do not expect your contractor to both design your dream home and then execute this vision. A contractor is a highly skilled professional, and, while a good contractor will have a trained eye for design based on previous experience, this is not his primary job. Paying for a professional architect will create a link between your vision and a contractor’s execution. A designer or an architect will listen to your expectations, your likes and dislikes, your budget considerations, and put it all on paper. Once you are happy with the design, you pass it over to your contractor, giving him a solid guideline for work.
5. Be a fair, present, and engaged client
There is nothing worse for a contractor than a client who stalls work because of his/her indecisiveness or lack of involvement. You can’t give your contractor the freedom to execute the project as he wishes and then be surprised that the end result is not 100% what you had in mind. Make sure you are involved in the process and communicate with your contractor daily. Address all your concerns as soon as they arise. Acknowledge the crew’s good work. If you change your mind half-way into construction, don’t give your contractor a hard time when he presents you with an updated cost sheet.
6. Don’t assume you know better
Of course, it is important that you understand every step of the process. You don’t want a contractor to take advantage of your ignorance and make the process longer and costlier. However, don’t simply make an assumption that you know best. If a contractor suggests you use certain materials because they are a better fit for this particular climate and will therefore last much longer, listen and understand.
7. Do not set unrealistic time expectations
While you don’t want to have renovation dragged indefinitely, it is equally important not to rush your contractor. Putting time pressure can easily affect quality. For example, to achieve a certain texture or color of the walls, the crew may need to apply layers and layers of paint, each requiring a certain amount of time to dry. It makes sense that you’d want to have the process done and over with as soon as possible, but don’t throw away your investment by compromising quality.
Arcbazar.com makes architectural design affordable and fun by allowing you to crowdsource multiple designs for your project, while saving you, on average, 60% of the cost. How? It’s easy. Describe your project, attach floor plans, measurements and links to inspirations, decide on the size of the award (yes, it’s completely up to you how much you’d like to reward the designers!) and launch it. As soon as you do, our network of 20,000+ designers receives a notification. You will end up with around 10 design ideas, complete with floor plans, and perspective and elevation drawings when necessary. All you have to do is pick your favorite design pack and hand it over to your contractor.