Historically, what I’ve ever heard from people who have worked with contractors is about 90% negative. They’re messy, they’re never on time, they raise the price mid-project, they disappear for weeks, etc. I know many people dread working with contractors, but being on the flip-side of the coin I see the other side of things. I have seen how weather can tremendously affect the timeline and overall profit. Or how a mid-project discovery, like finding rotted wood or a broken pipe, can mean days of extra work – resulting in a higher cost for the client. I’ve also seen plenty of people come to him way too early in their process, before they have thought through their needs – asking for estimates when the project is so gray and fuzzy it’s nearly impossible to put a pricetag on it.
My suggestions to help make your dealings with a remodeling contractor smooth and stress-free are as follows:
- Have your idea pretty well thought out before you call a contractor. Rough sketches and/or magazine clippings are great starting points. You don’t have to know every little detail, but if you haven’t decided on the basics then you can’t expect a good cost estimate.
- Have a budget in mind and share it early on. As we all know, there are varying ways of completing any given project; if your contractor knows what he/she is working with, they will have a better idea of what you’re expecting. They’ll also be able to tell you what materials you can afford in that price range.
- Expect the unexpected, and have a slush fund. If you have an old house and you haven’t seen what’s behind, or underneath, or within something you’re about to tear out, chances are you’ll uncover some type of bad news. And that bad news will cost you. That’s why old homes are so much fun, right? All those little surprises ;)
- Pick someone based on referrals, not an ad in the Yellow Pages. If your friends don’t know anyone, ask the neighbors. If someone has a sign in their lawn, or has obviously just gotten work done on their house, ask them about their experience with that company. A local lumber yard or hardware store could also give you some names. Most of the horror stories I’ve heard are from people who selected some random company without getting references first.
- Inspect the work as it goes along. Communicate with the contractor regularly. I don’t mean drive them crazy nitpicking their work while they are trying to go about their business – that’s a big no-no. But if you see something that you aren’t happy with, or if you change your mind about anything (which happens once you can actually see things in front of you rather than as a drawing on paper), tell your contractor right away. Smart contractors, like Alek Air, encourage clients to watch and inspect the work that is being performed.Don’t wait till the end of the project and then start complaining that it wasn’t how you envisioned it in your head. It’s much easier to fix, swap, or alter something mid-project. If your contractor is good, he/she will want you to be happy. They will do what he can to solve the issue. Keep in mind, though, that changes affecting the scope of work or materials used will probably affect the bottom line – you can expect to see a “Change Order” form ;)
Unofficially, I also suggest feeding, watering, and being kind to your contractor. A cup of coffee and some friendly banter can go a long way toward building a good relationship! It’s also likely to buy you a few freebie favors ;)