Not every job and renovation project is a DIY. Sever the wrong wire or pipe and the whole neighborhood can go up in flames. Know when it’s a do it yourself job or a do it for me that's better left to the superheroes. Both homeowners and contractors talk to me about your dread in working with each other so I’ve created a few talking points that should build a successful working relationship.
For the best experience:
- Adjust your attitudes. No need to be defensive. Think of and treat each respectfully as a project partner.
- Learn as much as you can about each other and the job.
- Do not assume. Before calling any potential heroes to bid on the job, home owner must take time to read, interview and independently research what is involved in the job in time, labor, materials and contingencies. If the house is to be rewired and new outlets installed, know that hanging ceiling fans and light fixtures are separate tasks unless you have it in the contract.
- Think of the proposed contract as a wish list and the opener for discussion. Don’t be afraid to openly discuss points of departure.
- Be patient with each other and the process. Know in advance that few projects are completed on deadline. Residential contractors typically are doing other jobs simultaneously.
- No screeching. No whining. Have a conversation.
- Watch your language - both of you. Homeowner, incentive is a better word to use than penalty. Offer to include in the contract “incentives” to finish the job on deadline or within ten days of delivery date.
- Make sure you’ve built in about 4 to 6 weeks of wiggle room beyond the projected completion date for actual finish. The availability of material, weather, workers and site contingencies can delay the best laid plans.
- When the job is in progress, direct complaints and discussions about the job to the foreman, not the workers or subs.
- Be inquisitive but don’t nag.
Know that your home improvement superheroes appreciate cooperative, informed customers who respect their expertise and work with them to complete the project to the satisfaction of all. Envision a successful renovation experience and finish.