Hiring a contractor? So scary! We will help

Why is construction so stressful? It can be stressful for me too but I have a few tips to make it a little easier.In this article I am addressing the top concerns I hear when talking to client, and what they fear most about hiring a contractor.

Because we are a design build firm we handle all the heavy lifting when it come time for our clients to hire a general contractor. I have learned that sometimes that is the most stressful part of the build or remodel portion for the client. Sometimes clients have put off their projects for years simply because of the anxiety of hiring the right contractor. They were so relieved when they learned they didn’t have to worry about that with us. I would highly recommend hiring a designer or someone that is your advocate through out the build process. You will thank me! However if you are part of the brave crowd managing your project on your own, here are a few tips to make things less stressful.

“I’m afraid they will take my money and never come back.”

Always sign a contract before you hand over a check to a contractor. This might seem counterintuitive to your fear but the contract shows you a couple things. First, a contractor with a contract is most likely insured. Insurances require contractors to have a contract with all clients. Second, it also means that the contractor is required to do the work they stated in the contract. It protects you as well as the contractor. Read the contract and be familiar with the terms. Should the contractor violate the contract, you have documentation of the work you both understood would be completed. This brings me to my next point. It is always best that you agree up front and have in writing the work that both parties understand will be completed. This will help to avoid misunderstandings. Be wary of giving money to contractors without a contract or a written bid. You are likely not to have any recourse without one.

“I’m afraid they will steal my stuff.”

When interviewing or hiring a construction company be sure to hire a company that has a reputation within the community. Reputation in this industry is worth it’s weight in gold. Nothing benefits my business more than positive reviews. When hiring a construction, or design firm try to find a company that has their own team of contractors. They will be able to speak to the integrity of the subcontractor that will be in your home. Also, ask what their procedures are when they are in the construction phase. For example, would the staff use the homeowners bathroom? If they forgot a step stool but they saw the homeowner has one, would they use it? If they got thirsty would they go into the homeowners kitchen for a drink? All of the answers to these questions should be a hard no! There should be an understanding that the homeowners items and space (other than the areas affected by the project) is absolutely off limits. Unless the homeowner specifically gives permission for any of these things. If this is their policy, it shows they are respectful of your property.

“I’m afraid they will do a bad job.”

This is maybe the most difficult one to figure out. Ask to see their pictures! Maybe even ask to see other properties they have worked on. But perhaps most importantly, you should have a designer on your side. A designer that is your advocate. Sometimes during a project even a good contractor makes mistakes or doesn’t understand what you are hoping to achieve. This is why you need someone that understands both construction and design to manage that process. A good designer will help you determine if the job that is being done is the one agreed upon. If you decide to go it alone be involved and use drawings and pictures. Never rely on your verbal description to ensure your contractor understands what you hope to achieve. I have learned that the more exact information you can give a contractor the better the outcome will be.

“I have kids. I don’t want them to be unprofessional around them.”

Contractors have been given a bad rap. Contractors and subcontractors are some of the nicest people I know. Out of every concern that I hear my clients express, this is one I can honestly tell you to ignore. The crews I have come across are usually very kind, hard working and respectful. However, I know that I tend to be a strong personality on a job site, and I set a tone of what is appropriate and what is not at the very start. I would suggest that as a homeowner, show appreciation and professionalism to their crew and they will be very professional in return. If there is a problem, you are well within your rights to address it or to simply ask that individual to leave your home.

“I don’t want them to make a big mess and not clean it up.”

Remodeling is a messy process. There is no way of completely eliminating the dirt and dust but there are ways of reducing it considerably. Ask your contractor what their policy is during construction is to reduce dust and cleaning up after themselves. If it suits your satisfaction then move forward. If you have specific needs bring it to the attention of your contractor during the bidding process. Sometimes these needs seem small to the homeowner but they can add cost over the extent of the entire project. It is important to allow the contractor the opportunity to bid accurately. Get a commitment to keeping your space clean and then hold them to it.

Love to hear your feedback or if you have other questions please contact me

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