Apr 11, 2013

Tips for working with a contractor.

Whether you're hiring a contractor for a large or small scale remodel, there are a few things you should do at the start.  Every contractor should be licensed, bonded and insured in your state. All of the work you request should be in a proposal or contract.  Ask how the contractor and his crew intend to respect your home, the contents, your privacy and take steps to ensure that you feel that they DO. Since you will be experiencing some degree of upheaval, they should provide suggestions on how to get through the demolition and construction, and be sensitive to your living through it.  The more planning you do up-front, the more easily your project can be managed. You are embarking on this path to make a life-altering change and to enjoy your home.  Here are some general things to address and some common courtesies that all contractors should extend for the duration of your project:

Get it in writing. From the scope of work, its cost, the duration, corrective action(s), to change orders and payments, have it in a written contract.

Create ground rules.  Establish parameters about arrival times, entry to your home, cleaning up, progress and problem-solving meetings etc... Will you be home? Should they have keys? How do issues get resolved? 

Be on time. What is the work schedule?  If there is a delay you should know about it.

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

Be clean:  Demonstrate respect for your home by cleaning up at the end of each day. Wearing shoe covers if flooring is involved, and washing hands to reduce soil or germ transfer.

Be presentable. If the foreman or supervisor moves from project to project, they should be presentable when arriving at 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 underneath, regardless of whether they are on a floor or counter.

Check work done. At the end of the day or week, review what has been done and that it was done correctly. Your contractor should be involved in multiple reviews to ensure that there both work and the schedule are accurate.

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.