Tips for Working with Contractors on Your Home
Working with contractors can be a stressful experience for everyone involved. Here are some tips on how to make the process go as smoothly as possible.
Hiring a contractor to work on your home is an extremely personal decision. The contractor you pick will be a regular fixture in your life until your project is finished. If you’re planning a particularly complex build, that time period could extend for months or even more than a year. And if you’re hiring a contractor to work on your home, you’re likely also giving them at least some level of access to your place of living.
That’s why it’s essential to make sure whomever you hire is dependable and credible. Luckily, there are few ways to do so.
Before you hire, be sure to ask contractors if you can get in touch with any of their former clients. They should be more than happy to provide you with contact details. If they don’t, that’s a red flag right off the bat. You can also look online for reviews, although in many cases anonymous reviews should be viewed with skepticism.
Depending on where you live, it can also be simple to check a contractor’s credentials on the internet. Many states have online databases anyone can access with up-to-date information on whether a contractor is properly licensed in that state. Some states even provide state court data to check up on a contractor’s litigation history.
Make sure you use every tool at your disposal to look into a contractor before you make the decision to hire them. Remember: If you can’t find anything about a business online, that’s definitely not a great sign.
Get Multiple Quotes
Any home project more complicated than a basic repair will likely require a “quote.” That’s a document signed by the contractor and the client detailing the work to be done, an estimated completion time, prices and payment schedules, along with any other relevant information.
But don’t just settle for the first contractor who gives you a quote. “You should get at least three quotes both to check the price but also to find the right person,” said real estate developer Bill Samuel. “Each estimate is an opportunity to learn something new about the project as well.”
Getting quotes from multiple sources will give you a couple of advantages. First, you’ll get a clearer picture of whether you’re getting ripped off. Second, putting more eyes on your project will allow you to learn from new perspectives and consider approaches you otherwise might not have considered.
Establish Open Lines of Communication
One of the many wonders of the modern world is how easy it is to get in touch with people. Taking advantage of modern communication tools is a great way to ensure you have a strong relationship with your contractor.
Set up weekly video conferences where both parties can check in, discuss progress made or setbacks encountered. Give your contractor an easy way to get in touch with you and make sure they know when you are available in case they need to reach you for quick comments.
Encourage open and honest communication and don’t be afraid to ask a ton of questions. Asking about things will help you better understand what’s going on while also giving the contractor a chance to explain their thoughts.
Plan on using photography to record every aspect of your project from planning all the way to the end of the build. Photographic records are a great way to keep things moving forward over the course of a project. Photos provide context, prevent confusion and can be used as a reference. They can also serve as conclusive evidence if a disagreement occurs.
Give Contractors Space to Work
If a contractor is working on your home at the same time as you’re living in it, it’s incredibly important to set boundaries. Nothing should interfere with workers doing their jobs. Make sure the contractor and workers have a clear path to their work area, and try to keep anyone else out of that area during the workday.
“It helps if the homeowner ensures that access to where we need to work is clear and free from any obstructions or clutter which could delay the work,” said heating contractor Graham Cole.
Remember that when a contractor or their workers are in your home, they are also at their place of work. Try your best to give them a productive work environment. Don’t watch over their shoulder as they work or distract them with conversation. If you do see something that raises a question, instead of interrupting them, jot the question down and save it for a time you’ve set aside for proper communication.