Should I tip my remodeling contractor?

According to an Angie's List survey, when tradespeople do get a tip, cash is the most-common gratuity offered, and most often the tip is less than 20 percent of the total job cost.

According to an Angie's List survey, when tradespeople do get a tip, cash is the most-common gratuity offered, and most often the tip is less than 20 percent of the total job cost.

Dear Angie: I hired a general contractor to retile my bathroom shower stall. There are two guys working on it. Am I supposed to tip the workers? If so, how much is customary? It's a $2,000 job. – Debbie B., San Diego

Dear Debbie: Tipping isn’t the standard in the home services trades, as it is in the restaurant and personal grooming trades. Still, it’s a question many homeowners wrestle with. To help answer it, Angie’s List recently polled nearly 5,000 home service professionals across the nation to find out if they expect a tip and if so, what they tend to collect.

I’ll spell out the survey findings below, but if you are considering giving the crew a tip, I would first talk to the owner of the company to determine if tips are allowed. You don’t want to put the workers in a difficult situation.  If tips are not allowed, but you still feel strongly about the work, you could write a letter to the company owner praising their work, and/or you could write a positive online review that spells out that great experience. This written proof will likely be appreciated just as much as a tip and may have a much longer lasting effect.

The Angie’s List survey showed movers and house cleaners are tipped more frequently than other service providers and that contractors like plumbers, roofers and electricians are tipped the least.

Only 7 percent of handymen and painters say they routinely are tipped, though 28 percent say they receive tips for service that goes above and beyond. Remodeling companies expect a tip 6 percent of the time, with 18 percent tipped for top-notch service. Half of remodeling firms say their gratuities come in the form of food and drink, gift cards or personalized gifts.

According to the survey, when tradespeople do get a tip, cash is the most-common gratuity offered, and most often the tip is less than 20 percent of the total job cost.

Most contractors in the survey say they charge their clients what they feel is fair price for the work being done and don’t expect a tip.

No consumers should ever feel obligated to tip their contractor, but I hope this offers some guidelines, should you decide to tip.

Angie’s List collects about 65,000 consumer reviews each month covering more than 550 home and health services. Angie Hicks compiles the best advice from the most highly rated service pros on Angie’s List to answer your questions. Ask Angie your question at askangie@angieslist.com


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Should you tip your service providers during the holidays?

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House cleaners are among the most tipped service providers, according to an Angie's List poll of members. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Elizabeth F. of Ashburn, Va.)
House cleaners are among the most tipped service providers, according to an Angie's List poll of members. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Elizabeth F. of Ashburn, Va.)

Each year around the holidays, many homeowners ask, "Where do I draw the line at tipping?" Many give a gift to the teacher, hair stylist and the postal carrier. What about my contractor, plumber, house cleaner or landscaper?

Comments

We're having our kitchen remodeled to the tune of $38,000. When I read the remodeling contractor would expect 6%, I went into shock! I certainly did not consider having to give at least $2,280 as a tip. While going over the numbers with him once, I mentioned what a great price something was and he said 'feel free to tip whatever you want when it's all done'. As bold as I thought this statement was, I thought $200-500 MAX and would hope that covers the workers too. Are we about to insult this guy w/our measly tip?

I don't think they were saying they expect a 6% tip, I think the statistic was that on average, they expect 6% of the people to tip anything at all. I think a tip over $2,000 would be difficult for most anyone to swing when the repairs have already been budgeted for. I'm not sure what would be reasonable, but I think you should be OK!

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