2nd January 2017


I’ve always said “selecting a contractor for your project should be taken as seriously as picking your doctor!”  This is the person you are allowing to renovate your home; this is a serious decision.  It’s where you live, where your family lives, your kids (furbabies included!) are going to/or have grown up in the space.  It’s where your memories are made and kept if they get lost because who you choose is careless… what are you left with?

We all hear the horror stories of the fly-by-night contractor who takes the deposit never to be heard from again or those who start the project, get the first draw and are gone.  Your house is all torn apart, and you are out a good sum of money.  Now you have to deal with the hassle to find someone new. How are you to trust them? How will they feel coming into a job that was started by someone else and now working with a jaded client?  Terrible…

I’m not going to suggest there aren’t bad apples out there, or that you’ll be completely protected by following these suggestions.  I’m suggesting you will limit your exposure to hassles by following these few protectors.  I’m not going to go into detail of the old song and dance, everyone knows:

  • Do they have referrals?
  • Can they show previous work that is similar or better in quality to what you want to be done?
  • Do they present themselves professionally?
  • Do they have reasonable terms on their contract?

Those are great points, and you should adhere to them, but here is where it gets real.  The contractor you want working on your house, provided you aren’t just trying to put “Lipstick on a pig and post the For Sale sign” is
a trustworthy one.  A real craftsman.

Here are four things I suggest you look for in addition to the typical four above.  Do they listen?  Are they willing to work with you and your dream designs?  Do they respect your budget?  Lastly, do they do what they say they will when they say they will do it?

Do they listen?

This may sound like you are picking a partner, and perhaps you should kind of look at it that way.  This is the person that you are giving a large sum of money to, the keys to your house, in the hopes they will do what they say they will (we’ll revisit that on number 4).  It’s true, do they listen to why you want to do this job.  Do they offer feedback and suggestions that make sense to you?  Do they come back to points you make and try to incorporate them into your project?  When you don’t like an idea of theirs, do they get upset and try to force their opinions into your project regardless of your wants?  Do they freely discuss your needs and what you want out of the project?  You are the client and should be treated that way!!  If you have answered yes to any of the above, move on.

Design- Theirs or Yours?

In my 17 years experience, I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard from my clients… “My friend had a contractor, and they wouldn’t listen to anything (friend) wanted.  They would get mad if s/he didn’t agree with their ideas for how it was to be done!”  Can you believe it?  The client held hostage by their own contractor, who they are paying!  I always say to my client- “You are the one who gets the final say, in the end, it doesn’t matter if I love it, as long as you do, I’ve done my job,” and it’s true.  There is a very distinct difference between us, your contractor, guiding you down the right path of design in what works and what doesn’t.  Provided it’s not structural, you can afford to do it, and you love it, it’s up to them to make it happen for you.  You have dreams about how you want your project to look, if you are passionate about it, it’s up to the person you hired to make those dreams a reality, provided you have the budget for it.

The Dreaded B-word- “Budget.”

Be honest; you want your contractor to be, so start off on the right foot.  If at any point you stop trusting them to bring this to their attention.  If they can’t remedy the trust issue, they aren’t the ones for you. This is a much longer discussion than what can be addressed in a short blog post but trust me.  This is not something you want to keep close at hand if you want to be able to choose the right contractor.  If you don’t have one, the right contractor will help build a budget you feel comfortable with.  However, if you start feeling taken advantage of, have that discussion and allow them the opportunity to explain why the costs are what they are. It could be as simple as you choosing expensive options without knowing it! Be sure to work through it together.  If they are unwilling to discuss or explore your options…next!  But be honest, you don’t want to end up with Kia when you were willing to pay for a BMW, and trust me you don’t want the contractor that is used to building a KIA building your BMW…

I’ll be there Monday, no Tuesday, wait no, Friday

He says he will be there at five on Monday to review your project with you.  It’s Tuesday, and you haven’t heard from them… not your contractor.  They said they would have your quote to you by Friday; you received it Friday but the one a week after they said you’d get it.  You get what I’m trying to say, hold them accountable.  If they can’t hold up to living up to those simple initial commitments, they will not start the job when they say they will, and there will be significantly larger problems should the project continue.

I won’t guarantee that selecting a contractor that can hit the first four and my four suggestions will bring the best experience, you could find. I can strongly suggest it’s very unlikely you will be disappointed with the end results.  Be honest, do your research and know what you want, if you can’t do that, at least know what you don’t want.  Hold them accountable and make sure they listen to you and what your needs are.  Further to that, in the end, their plan solves or exceeds your needs.  They have clients that love them and projects they can show you that prove it.  Their companies culture is something you respect and appreciate, at very least they present themselves in a professional manner.  Their agreement with you protects you and them with a mutual contract that outlines your project, what they will provide you and can clearly communicate what your responsibility is and what they are responsible for.

Are there any more tips you would like to add to the eight tips above? Do you have a great story you would like to share? We would love to hear from you. and if you have any questions post them below, we are here to answer!

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