Hiring an experienced, professional contractor to help with your home improvement projects is already a step in the right direction. However, if you haven't worked with contractors before, you may not be aware of the dynamics involved in a contractor-customer relationship.
If you're new to the process, or just want to work on improving your relationship with your existing contractor, consider the following tips:
1. Be clear about what you want, and don’t be afraid to speak up. Contractors say homeowners with realistic and well-defined goals are usually the most satisfied. Make your expectations clear during the discussion stage, and then when the contract is written take the time to read it, and discuss the details again. If you have a question or you’re unhappy with any aspect of the project, bring it to the contractor’s attention as soon as possible. It's your home, your project and your money. One of the worst things you can do to contractors is let them get started on a job and then say you meant something else.
2. Be available for the estimate. Although it depends on the scope of your home improvement project and the contractor's preferences, contractors may provide you with an estimate anywhere from one day to several weeks after you submit your project. This is because it will involve researching the cost of materials, calculating the time needed to complete the project, number of workers needed and so on. As a customer, the best thing you can do is make an effort to be available when the contractor contacts you, and don’t be late. Driving to the site, discussing the job and preparing the written estimate all cost the contractor time and money. A "free estimate" isn't really free for contractors -- it's an investment cost that they absorb.
3. Inform rejected contractors of your decision. Since you have likely contacted several contractors to find the best price for your home improvement project, it's important that you let the rejected contractors know that you won't be using their services. While an estimate may be free to the consumer, it can cost a contractor time, effort and money to meet with you about your project and provide an estimate. Sure, they'll get the message if you ignore their calls for a month, but it's always more professional, polite and considerate to call the contractors personally so they can focus their time and efforts on other projects.
4. Make payments on time. As a customer, you are responsible for making payments to contractors according to the guidelines set forth in your contract. In the same way you would be frustrated by a late payment from your workplace, contractors will grow impatient when payments are consistently delayed. The best thing you can do to maintain a positive relationship with contractor sis keep track of when your payments are due and make an extra effort to submit them in a prompt manner. This shows the contractor that you appreciate his or her work and encourages them to continue the job in a timely manner as well.
5. Have some trust in your contractor. Once you have verified the contractor's certifications and experience level, checked customer references and established a contract, you should trust in his or her ability to effectively finish the job. If your contractors have proved to be capable of providing quality work, try to avoid hovering around the worksite. Not only will it slow progress on the job, it can lead the contractor to believe you have no faith in his or her work.