By Adam Helfman
It’s that time of year when love is in the air! Flowers, candy and sweet notes are being shared with your significant others, but what about your contractor? Outside of your spouse, your contractor is one of the most important people in life. They make sure that your dreams (and budget) are met. Here are a few tips to keep your relationship positive while they complete your renovation.
- Establish a detailed contract before hand.
- Outline the work rules.
- Expect the unexpected.
- Keep changes to a minimum.
- Be engaged but don’t micromanage.
Before you even break ground on your project, establish a detailed contract with your contractor to avoid any “But I didn’t know” or “We didn’t discuss this” moments. Things you’ll want to make sure you outline are:
— Who cleans up all the schmutz at the end of the day (do you need rent a dumpster?)
— Who pays for what (are you providing materials or is there a material cost factored into your contractor’s bid?) If you buy direct, make sure the contractor extends you his discount. We all love a good discount!
—What the procedure is should the walls start coming down and things aren’t looking like they are going to go according to the original plan (think old electrical or plumbing, foundation issues, etc.) and what the rules are for tapping into the contingency budget.
Your contractor and their team are going to be in spending a lot of time in your home — we’re talking weeks to possibly months depending on the scale of the project. This is especially critical if you’ll be living in the home during the renovation. You’ll want to make sure you discuss what time the workday will start and end and whether tools can be kept out of the house during the renovation and who is responsible should something happen to them. The level of cleanliness you expect to come home to at the end of the day is also a good topic of conversation just so you are both on the same page.
At this point, we’ve all seen enough episodes of Property Brothers and Fixer Upper to know that renovations hardly ever go 100 percent as expected. Go into the project knowing that there will probably be a thing or two that doesn’t go completely according to plan and you’ll save yourself quite a bit of disappoint in the long run. Remember to breathe.
A great way to avoid getting hit by unexpected costs is to keep post- contract changes to a minimum. Once you and your contractor(s) decide on a plan, do your best to stick to it. While it’s one thing to want to change the paint color of your kitchen renovation, you’re entering into a whole other battlefield once you start to change configurations and materials.
Remember that time you vetted your contractor and hired the one that best fit your budget and your project needs? Exactly. You hired your specific contractor for a reason and a little trust can go a long way to establish a healthy working relationship. Be active and engaged in your project but don’t micromanage your contractor’s every move — trust that they know the best way to take down a wall or complete a backsplash. If you have concerns about how your contractor is completing the project, ask questions about the process but avoid telling your contractor how to do their job.
Adam Helfman created Hire It Done – a safe and easy way for homeowners to get every home improvement project done right. Adam is truly ‘the homeowner’s best friend’ on radio, television and internet. Adam has hosted various radio and television shows and was a featured builder on ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and became the show’s construction consultant for more than two seasons. On the Hire it Done Radio show, Adam uses his expertise to give out useful tips, take phone calls and answer questions on everything home improvement.