Working Effectively with Contractors
Very few people actually enjoy tackling home improvement or renovation projects. While hiring a contractor may be the most efficient, practical, and just simply the right way to go, it still takes some planning and preparation on your part.
First off, hire a professional. The right professional. Research choices using websites like Angie’s List, and ask friends, colleagues, and neighbors. Narrow down your choices to at least three and discuss the project with each in detail, then get bids. Make sure they’ve worked on a project similar to yours, and then get and check references and licenses. Your selection may be unavailable to start right away, but that could be a good sign. The best contractors are the busiest.
Once you’ve chosen a contractor, sign a contract. It should have details about timelines, deadlines, payments, and materials. A general contractor will usually subcontract out some tasks – electrical, plumbing, painting, etc. Make sure you know what the costs of these services and all materials are upfront.
One of the most important details is to negotiate ground rules. This includes when and how long workers will be in the home, which rooms they’ll have access to, parking, cleanup, etc. These are the issues that generally begin to sour a situation, so they should be addressed up front. It might also be prudent to touch base with your neighbors and keep them in the loop on potential noise and traffic.
Equally important is frequent and regular updates. There’s nothing worse than not knowing when the project will be complete or finding the water turned off unexpectedly on a Monday morning.
Unfortunately, some contractors are known to dawdle on the final details. Don’t make the final payment until the job is 100 percent complete to the contract specifications and your satisfaction.
Finally, whether you’re doing it yourself or paying a professional, realize that renovations are stressful. It’s unavoidable, so expecting and preparing for the inevitable stress will help deter frustration.