6 Etiquette Tips for Working With a Contractor

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Inviting a contractor and their crew into your home can be a nerve-wracking experience. You want to be confident that you chose a team you can trust but you also don’t want to let your guard down completely. You want them to feel welcome, but you don’t want to be in their way. There is no exact science to the contractor-homeowner relationship. However, there are a few ground rules that will help ensure a positive experience from start to finish.

These include doing your research, keeping strong lines of communication, respecting their time and eliminating minor inconveniences.

Hire a Quality Contractor

You need to do a bit of research to find a contractor you can rely on. You want to hire a company with a good reputation and experience with the work you require. Hiring a contractor can be challenging if you’ve never been through the process. Start by researching companies in your area using services like HomeAdvisor or Angie’s List. Once you have a list of reputable companies, ask about their related experience and for a list of references. Feedback from previous clients can help you to make your decision and to understand your contractor’s needs and expectations from a homeowner’s perspective. Also be sure to talk to friends and family about local contractors they've worked with. Hearing a strong recommendation from someone you know and trust can help you feel assured before taking the next step.

Establish a Good Rapport

From that first phone call onward, you are creating a relationship with your contractor. What they will value most is open communication. Tell them exactly what you need and work with them to develop a plan of action, then remain available to them throughout the process. This way, if anything goes awry, neither of you wastes time finding a solution.

If you are unhappy with something along the way or you need to make changes to the project, be forthright and respectful. 

Clear Away Obstacles

The job will be easier to manage if you have already prepared the area for the crew. Take the precautions you feel are necessary, such as removing fragile or in-the-way items from the space where the crew will be most active. Allow them access to your driveway or the road in front of your home to minimize inconveniences.

Your pets, regardless of how friendly they are, can be some of the biggest obstacles to getting work done. A large percentage of contractors prefer that pets be kept away from the project area. This will limit distractions and keep your animals safe from dangerous tools, materials and equipment.

Check In

Your project may be going along seamlessly but it is still important to ask your contractor how things are going at least once every two days. Ask them if they need any accommodations that they aren’t getting or if they are running into any time-consuming obstacles. Don’t feel obligated to engage in lengthy conversations. Most contractors would rather keep interactions short to remain on-schedule.

Let Them Work

On top of keeping your conversations short, you should also keep visits short.

Don’t hover over the crew or make a five-course-meal during a kitchen remodel. Your presence will hamper their ability to work accurately and at-pace with the projected schedule. You may have the time and money to hang out and learn about countertop installation, but they have only allotted a certain time frame for your remodel before their next job is set to begin.

Show Appreciation

One unsatisfied customer is more likely to give a bad review than any of twenty satisfied customers are likely to give a good one. This is true across many industries, but it can be especially detrimental to companies whose business relies on reviews from past customers. Most contractors will agree that a positive referral or review is one of the greatest ways you can show your appreciation for their good work.

It isn’t uncommon for homeowners to provide a bit of coffee in the morning or maybe bake a batch of cookies. Some professionals even report receiving a tip, from time to time. However, these things aren’t expected. Your contractor is more concerned with accurate and timely work and would appreciate a compliment or two and a good referral.