When selecting a contractor, hopefully you completed a thorough screening process and found someone you can trust. This person now has the fate of your remodel in his hands. Here are some tips for a smooth working relationship:
- Be sure you are both clear about the scope and expectations up front, and document shared understanding in writing. This can take many forms, but should be reflected in the contract provided to you. You want your contractor to understand your expectations. You also need your contractor to explain what you should expect through the course of the project, and what kind of outcome is realistic given your budget.
- Be prepared for changes and additional costs. Implementing a design in the field is never as clean and straightforward as creating a design on paper. Unexpected obstacles often emerge, and you will need to rely on your contractor’s guidance. Still, you should have your contract specify that any additional charges must be approved in advance.
- Establish your communication channels. Make sure you know the best way to get a hold of each other for timely responses. If your contractor needs to wait for you to make a decision, it will delay the completion of your project. Ask your contractor to inform you of key decision points with as much notice as possible.
- If you are using a general contactor,you will have a number of subcontractors and possibly a foreman at your home during the day-to-day work. Clarify up front who you should talk to with any requests or concerns. Typically, all communication goes directly through the general contractor and is passed down from there.
- If you are not living in your home during the remodel and not seeing the progress on a daily basis, be sure to visit your home frequently to observe the work as it progresses. You may want to coordinate your visits with your contractor to allow for some face-to-face meetings and show-and-tell when it is convenient for both of you. This will allow you to catch any misunderstanding early. It could be useful to establish a regular meeting schedule.
- Also, if you are ordering your own items such as light fixtures, tile, appliances or bath fixtures, check any products that have been ordered as soon as possible after they arrive. You need to make sure they are correct and look as you expected them to. Your contractor will not be inspecting these items for you, and you don’t want to miss return policy deadlines.
- Be a good client. Treat your contractor like a partner and develop a good rapport. Be responsive and make decisions quickly. You want your contractor to feel encouraged to come to you with any questions or concerns. You also want the people who work in your home to feel motivated to do a great job for you. So be friendly and respectful to everyone you meet. Give compliments when you are impressed.
Living in your home during your remodel? Read our tips on how to make the process more bearable.