Home Remodeling is a Big Deal, Right?
As a homeowner, you’re paying your hard-earned money and placing a great deal of trust in the contractor you’ve hired, and expect a quality product and a positive experience. Likewise, contractors put their all into a project, with the expectation that you’ll be satisfied and willing to pay up when the work is done. But what many homeowners may not realize is that their contractor wants things to go just as smoothly as the homeowners do. Here are some of the things that your contractor wishes you knew before, during and after your project.
Communication is Essential… and Welcome
The key to any successful contractor – client relationship is communication. It’s the contractor’s job to provide you with information, and it’s your job as the customer to speak up when you have questions or concerns. It’s much easier to make corrections and address issues as they arise. Remember that contractors deal with these issues day in and day out, and it’s easy for them to take certain knowledge and conditions for granted. Speak up when you need clarification! A good contractor will appreciate the questions. There’s a reason that communication and open dialogue consistently tops the lists of tips to a successful remodel.
Providing Your Own Materials Creates More Problems Than It Solves
A common question that contractors get from homeowners is whether the homeowner can save money by providing materials themselves. Of course, circumstances vary from project to project, but in general the answer is ‘no’. Some contractors are more open to this than others, but most pros discourage it. Many take the perspective that whoever supplies the materials is responsible for making sure that those materials are the right ones for the job.
A professional contractor does this for a living – not only the construction aspect, but also the project management and material procurement. They have the experience and the resources to know what to order and when to order it, and how it all goes together. For example, if your kitchen counter has pre-drilled holes for a 4-inch faucet spread and you provide an 8-inch spread faucet, whose responsibility is it to take that back to the store and get a replacement? Even if you volunteer to replace it yourself, whose responsibility is it to pay the plumber to sit around and wait while the new one is on its way?
Just like doing portions of the work yourself, providing your own materials is more likely to create difficulties and cost more than leaving it to the pros you’ve hired.
Changing Means Rearranging
You may decide to make changes in the scope or details of your project once it’s underway. This isn’t unusual, and most contractors expect it to some degree. What your contractor would like you to know is that you’ll both be much better off if you can tell your contractor about changes (even potential changes) as far in advance as possible so that your contractor can make accommodations. As just one example, changing your selection of a tile for your backsplash is much easier to do before the tile is ordered, rather than after it’s installed.
This is another great example of the importance of communication between you and your contractor.
When you talk to your contractor about scope or design changes, it’s important to understand that every change has the potential to affect all the additional work yet to come. Using the backsplash example, even if you notify your contractor of the change before the tile is installed, the original tile order may still need to be canceled, and the new tile ordered, which could push the completion date of the project out a couple of weeks. This often isn’t a make-or-break detail, but it’s important to understand how one trade affects another.
Your Contractor Can’t Control the Weather… Or the Permitting Folks
You may have hired the best contractor of all-time, but there are still a few things that are out of their control. The weather, for example, can affect both the ability to work and the availability of material.
Also out of your contractor’s hands are your municipality’s permit application times and inspection schedules. Depending on your local government’s requirements and procedures, the inspection and permit process can be either a breeze or a nightmare. Either way, all your contractor can do is follow the rules and be patient.
Workers Will Not Be in Your Home Every Day
As excited as you may be to get started on your project, and as eager as you may be to get your home back in order once work has begun, it’s important to keep in mind that there will likely be days when no one is working at your home. Contractors are responsible for coordinating in-house crews, trade subcontractors, material deliveries and inspections, and occasionally there are gaps during and between those schedules. Rest assured; your contractor hasn’t forgotten about you!
On a related note, when workers are on-site, they appreciate being given the space to do their jobs properly. Watching over their shoulders, questioning or giving feedback on every step, or asking them to make changes on the fly not only hinders their efficiency but leads to a breakdown in the communication and flow of the overall project. You hired a professional for a reason, so trust that they know what they’re doing and let them do it.
What’s Behind the Walls May Surprise You… And Cost You
Most remodeling contracts will contain a clause about unforeseen conditions. That’s because it’s impossible to say what the remodeler will find when they start opening up your walls. Any contractor who has been in business for more than a few years probably has stories about removing drywall only to discover everything from stacks of cash to tremendous pest infestations. Again, this is an area where communication is key. A contractor is responsible for letting you know about any potential complications, and you are responsible for understanding the realities of going into a job blind.
Invariably, Something Will Go Wrong
The measure of a successful project isn’t whether or not it was trouble free. Instead, judge your project by how your contractor dealt with the inevitable challenges that cropped up along the way. As long as you keep your lines of communication open, and both parties are clear about obstacles and objectives, any problems that arise can be overcome and (eventually) forgotten about, leaving you with only the satisfaction of a project well done. Don’t let concerns or questions fester, and don’t be quick to hit the panic button. Simply keep talking and asking questions, and you and your contractor should be able to work through almost anything.