graphic of the cycle of remodelingWORKING WITH CONTRACTORS

Save your sanity

Hiring and managing contractors and sub-contractors for home remodel work can be intense; there is an overwhelming amount of choice, then hundreds of small decisions as projects progress and present challenges. The trick to staying grounded throughout? Make a plan ahead of time—but then be ready to flex.

My top 10 tips for contractor success:

  • Get everything in writing, including bids & work changes.
  • Ask about payment options, including cash discounts & installment options.
  • Add a 30% buffer to any estimate (time AND money).
  • Ask who will be performing the actual work—and how they'll be supervised.
  • Touch base with your contractor weekly (by phone) to stay on course.
  • Update any estimate after 6 months of lag to make sure it's still relevant.
  • Check references for contractors on the big projects. Every time!
  • Ask if any parts of the job are new to the vendor, and their plan of attack.
  • Ask if there are money-saving options for either product or process.
  • Plan for a LOT of dust! Cover everything and expect to clean.

BONUS: Best practices to avoid frustration...

  • Plan early - Start researching options and contacting [several] vendors as far in advance as possible. Don't forget to research which supplies you might need and any permit or sub-contractor considerations.
  • Look for opportunistic gaps - Is your job "too small" for contractors or are they booked out super far? Consider asking whether they can break it up into smaller pieces to fit in around other people's jobs.
  • Pre-order supplies - Make sure to share your vision with your contractor ASAP and suss out any supplies you need to order or request as early as possible. Also consider using the same materials as your contractor's other client (and bundling an order) to save time and money.
  • Be flexible - Things will be delayed. Sub-contractors may fall through. The key here is flexibility and reasonable expectations; you may have to adjust mid-job, but focus on the relief you'll feel when it's done.
  • Have a Plan B - Make sure to check in frequently with vendors about impending snafus, status of materials, etc., so you can change your back-up plans when needed. Likewise, you may have dreamed of replacing ALL of your appliances at the same time, but you may have to settle for the fridge now and the rest later.
  • More tips here and here

It's helpful to remember that vendors are just as stressed as we are. They want to deliver and hate snafus, but problem solving is their job. Ours? Be clear, be kind, be adaptable! I'm here if you need support...