Sep 12, 2011

Tips for working with a contractor on a home remodel.

When you hire a contractor for your remodel or home update, there are some things that you should expect. You are embarking on this path to make a life-altering change and to enjoy your home. Up front planning reduces errors and makes the path smoother. When everyone understands the rules, the project can be managed better.

Every contractor that works in your home should be licensed, bonded and insured. When they present a proposal or contract, that information should be provided as well and it's a good idea to verify the accuracy of the information. While engaged in your project, the contractor(s) should respect your home, the contents, your privacy and take steps to ensure that you feel that they DO. Since you will be experiencing some upheaval, they should provide suggestions on how to best work through the demolition and construction.

Here are some general things to consider and some common courtesies that contractors should extend for the duration of your project:

Get it in writing. The scope of work, cost, duration, handling corrective action, making changes, progress and final payments, should be in a written contract.

Create ground rules. For entry to your home, clean up, progress and problem-solving meetings etc... you should establish parameters at the start of your project. Will you be home? Should they have keys? How do issues get resolved?

Set a schedule.  Your contractor should be on time. What is the daily and weekly work scehdule? If there is a delay you should know about it.

Be attentive. Workers should not have distractions like personal phone calls, loud radios and yelling amongst the crew. When you are there, your questions and concerns should be their focus.

Clean Up: Demonstrate respect for your home by cleaning up at the end of each day. They should wear shoe covers if flooring is involved, and wash hands to reduce soil or germ transfer.

Be presentable. If supervisors move from project to project, they should be presentable when working in your home. A simple change of shirts demonstrates respect for you.

Protect surfaces. When tools and equipment are used, a drop cloth should be placed under them, regardless of whether they are on a floor or counter.

Check work done. At the end of the day, review what has been done and that it was done correctly. Your contractor should be involved in multiple work-week reviews to ensure that you move forward and do not repeatedly re-do work.

Punch it. Create 'punch lists' periodically and present them during reviews. These lists address things you feel are not complete or need to be corrected. A written list is better than a verbal one.