Keys to the Contractor Relationship

OK, we’re all about enlightening here at HomeOnTrack so here goes … it may be surprising to some, but the relationship you have with your contractor will be one of the closest you will ever have — good or bad. Hopefully, we’re here to help it be a good one!

It makes perfect sense, really. You have hired this person to build your HOME. Reference any dictionary or thesaurus and it’s easy to see the pattern when defining home: family, sanctuary, safety, comfort — no surprises here. So obviously it doesn’t get much more intimate than our homes. And you’ve just hired a stranger (most likely) to build yours for you and your family.

Just as significant, and possibly more, is who you welcome into your home for a remodel project. As chances are you and yours are still living there maneuvering around the people and the process. And let’s face it, the mess that comes along with it. So how to manage one of the most prominent relationships in your life?  Again, we’re heading back to basics here:

Communication is Crucial.

Just like any close relationship you have, keeping lines of communication open, clear and cordial is key. Your contractor relationship hinges on it. Home projects are detailed and scheduled. Answer your contractor’s questions quickly. Finish making your selections in a timely manner. And if you have a question of your own — ask it, but preferably during regular business hours!

Remember, though your project has no time clock in your mind, for your contractor, this is their business. Respect that they have a life outside of their regular hours, just like you. And yes, emergencies may arise, so ask your Contractor what to do if a call after-hours seems warranted. It’s all about mutual respect and communicating boundaries.

Now just like any relationship, this communication link is a two-way street. You should and must expect your contractor to get your final approval on your selections, clearly explain any additional charges that come up because of change orders and be updating you regularly on your project’s progress — both in regards to schedule and budget. Keep in mind, with any large project things evolve. Things occur that are out of someone’s control (to be sure, contractors have the very best weather apps on their devices). That being said, if these instances are communicated clearly, it goes a long way to keeping the contractor/homeowner relationship on track. You can insist on these updates.

Let’s All Do Our Jobs.

This is a big one folks. You went through the process to find your contractor, getting referrals and touring their homes. By the time the contract is signed your confidence level should be solidly high. So now, let them do the job you hired them to do — to expertly supervise and manage the building of your home. Home building follows a precise timeline. Your contractor manages all of this, from ordering your materials to scheduling all the subs who work on your home.

And speaking of Subs, if you remember only one thing today, it’s this — you do not tell the sub contractors what they need to or should be doing. That is sacred territory exclusive to your contractor. You can look at it simply like this…your contractor, not you, has hired these subs to do the project. Your contractor in charge of their work, period. If you have a question or concern about a certain part of the job, your contractor is your point of communication. Stick to this steadfastly and your home project will keep moving forward.

And your Job? As we already hit on, the most important job you have is to make your product selections when they need to be made. Be timely to all your appointments and walk-throughs and keep communicating.

OK, but what if you’ve decided to put in some sweat equity? Sweat equity can work if a few guidelines are met:

Be sure you’re up for the job.

Saving money through sweat equity is great in theory, but consider it carefully. Are you as good of a painter or tile layer as the professionals that would otherwise work on your home? You don’t want to put forth the time and effort and then be disappointed with the end result. This would create a whole lot of sweat and not enough equity.

Stay on Schedule.

When you sign on to do work on your own home you essentially become one of your contractor’s subs. Which means they set the schedule and you must stick to it. Again, home building follows a precise timeline. Your sweat equity efforts should in no way hold up the process as most assuredly another sub is waiting for you to finish your work for them to begin theirs. If you can’t keep to the schedule, sweat equity shouldn’t be part of the equation.

The Good Ol’ Golden Rule:

It has stood the test of time for a reason. Treat your Contractor with the respect and professionalism you expect them to treat you with.  Any Contractor worth their profession understands perfectly how stressful the home building process can be for you, how important your home is to you and how you have entrusted them to bring you through the process.

Keep communication lines open at all times. Let everyone do the job they are there to do. And employ patience, reason and a bit a flexibility when necessary. Doing these things put the odds heavily in your favor that your home-building experience will be fulfilling and yes enjoyable — trust me, it can happen! Best of Luck and Enjoy!

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