What You Did Not Know About Home Contractors

What You Did Not Know About Home Contractors
  • Opening Intro -

    So, you think that you have your home contractor all figured out, right?

    Don't bet on it.


That goes the same for the contractor you haven’t hired yet, but think might work out based on some assumptions you have made. General contracting is not rocket science, but the individual you hire has the knowledge and experience that far exceeds what most homeowners have.

1. Plan or Fail. You have an idea about your project, but your plans are not set in stone. Or, you make your plans and you change them as you go. It is important to specify the details of your project from the onset right down to the color of the quartz counter for the kitchen and the type of light fixtures for the bathroom. And for a very good reason: your contractor will shop for these items ahead of time and get you the best price. Wait too long and something you like may be out of stock, holding up the project or forcing you to change your plans. Again.

2. Shopping for Materials. You can save money by buying what you want, right? Don’t bet on it. Your contractor has access to stores and outlets you cannot even touch. He’ll buy everything needed and at prices lower than you can find. Moreover, since he knows what work needs to be done, he’ll buy exactly what is needed — nothing more, nothing less.

3. The Right Contractor. No homeowner wants to be stuck with a contractor that drops the ball or simply does not do what you want to have done. Time, money, and aggravation can wreck your plans, making you regret your hire. And how did you find your contractor? Was it through a website that ranks contractors? Or, did you hire someone based on the testimony of a co-worker? Finding the right contractor means getting at least three references and calling these people to find out about their experiences with the contractor.

4. Money Matters. Homeowners get a bit paranoid, even weird when it comes to money. True, a general contractor with his reputation at stake will start your project without requiring money up front — he can charge the materials he buys, but beyond that there are people that work for him. And these people need to be paid. You need to come up with an agreement on how money will be dispensed and when. Stick to a payment schedule and your contractor will be able to stay on his schedule. Make your final payment when the job is done not weeks later. Include an arbitration plan in your contract to handle disputes quickly and efficiently.

5. Contractor Knows Best. Few homeowners are truly skilled at all things contracting. Even your home contractor shines in some areas, but not in others. That is why he assembles a team of professionals, individuals that he has vetted, worked with previously, and can help him get your job done right. If you interfere beyond making certain design recommendations, it will not bode well for your project. You hired your contractor to make important decisions on your behalf, now let him get to work.

6. Staying Put. Your contractor has advised you to leave the home, but you insist on staying put. No, you aren’t having the entire home redone, but with heating, cooling and electricity turning on and off, you’re not about to find the experience comfortable. Besides, he really is concerned that your children or pets may wander behind the plastic sheeting and get hurt. If your contractor advises you to find other accommodations while the project is in progress, then do so. The work will get done faster and done right too.

7. Approval and Permits. The general contractor typically handles all permits, but if your job is extensive and you hired an architect, you may not have understood that your planning board or homeowner’s association (perhaps both) will have to review your these first. Reviews can take time and, if approved, will cost you fees as well as permits. Your contractor also has to work with an inspector — you want those inspections to go smoothly, so don’t interfere.

Contracting Right

Always strive to promote a harmonious relationship with your contractor. That doesn’t mean you overlook problems — you bring these to the attention of the contractor right away and he’ll handle them quickly and efficiently. If you vetted your contractor, then you already know that he has a good working relationship with his clients. Maintain that and your job will get done on time and on budget.

See AlsoLooking for a Qualified Contractor?



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Categories: Contractors

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Auto Trends Magazine", an online publication. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and weblogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".