Working with contractors has a few quirks that you should know about before starting. It’s not unlike working with anyone else for the most part, but there are a few key pieces of information that can dramatically improve your relationship and workflow.
When you’re simply looking for a handyman for quick repairs, you may not need all this information, but when it comes to painting, remodeling, or any service that requires building, it’s considerably more complex. This is where learning how to work with contractors can prove useful.
You have to understand how to respect deadlines, if permits are necessary and how to get them, proper etiquette for when they have to stay in your home for hours, and much more.
Today, I want to brief you on these things so you can work well with your chosen contractor!
Make some research ahead of time
This is something I always encourage when it comes to any project: research and plan before calling a home improvement contractor.
It’s not obligatory, because many contractors – especially those experienced in handling complex projects – will help you figure out what you want… but that takes time. Time that could have been saved with some pre-planning on your part, which would move the job along much faster!
But just to be clear, you don’t need to have a fool-proof plan at this point, or even have decided every single thing. Just a good idea of what you want is enough to have the proper talking points with your contractor. From here, they can help you make decisions.
Be clear about what you want
When you decide on what you want, be definitive about it. It really hurts morale when it seems like your mind could change at any moment.
This is because contractors are used to dealing with people that change their minds halfway through the job and then ask that they re-do all the work, which is a logistical nightmare for them.
So, in courtesy to their plight, be as inquisitive as you like before making a final decision, but once you do, give them the assurance that the project can move forward and you won’t change your mind after work has begun.
Leave the deadlines to them
This is one of the most important tips for working with contractors: respect the deadline.
Usually, you will have your own expectations of deadlines, but imposing them on contractors is very stressful for them. Before you make demands, try to look up online the average time it takes to complete a project similar to yours, just so you have an idea…
But even then, it’s much healthier to simply ask your contractor when the project should be ready. Every city has different access to certain materials and subcontractors, so it’s not fair to expect everyone to meet the same criteria – especially when some jobs can be postponed by weather conditions, which are out of their control.
Of course, if you have an important event you want to be ready for (such as finishing a project before your family comes to visit, for example) you can tell them and ask if it’s possible. Just remember that if a contractor cannot meet this imposed criteria, it has nothing to do with an unwillingness to cooperate: oftentimes, they can’t change their entire calendar for the sake of one job!
Be proactive when it comes to permits
While contractors can help you figure out which permits you may need and even how to get them, it’s not their job to actually do it.
To acquire permits in your local area, you will often need to visit the city hall and present personal documents. As you can imagine, it’s much faster if you volunteer to go do it yourself while the contractor prepares for the rest of the project.
As for what projects require permits, this changes a lot from city to city, so you will have to ask a local pro or contact local authorities. But as a general rule, permanent additions or changes usually require permits, such as a new garage, changes to plumbing coming to your house, or even a new deck.
This varies a lot though, so it’s wise to check during the planning phase!
Be kind and attentive
For many time-consuming jobs, contractors will have to stay in your home for a while, so be sure to grant them access to a bathroom that they can use freely when necessary. It also goes a long way to offer them some fresh water!
When it comes to this type of work, contractors are often on a tight rope, because for them, your home is their workspace, but it’s also a place where they have to respect many boundaries.
In fact, for some jobs, you have to leave the area entirely. Interior painting not only requires a lot of furniture to be moved, but it also has a very strong smell that lingers for hours, which may require you to leave the premises until the paint dries.
You should always communicate with your contractor about these situations, but the general idea is to understand how you can help them help you.
Remember that you can get free quotes for any service in your area with just a few clicks!