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Be Proactive: What to do Before a Contractor Arrives

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Jessica
06.04.13

You’re ready to make that “Dream Bedroom” Pinterest board come to life and have taken the contractor-hiring plunge. Congratulations! Now what?

Even if your need for hiring a contractor is a little less glamorous (clogged pipes happen to everyone), just because the contract is signed and the license vetted doesn’t mean your job is done! Prevent costly surprises, unexpected or awkward moments and an overall bad experience by preparing for the contractor’s arrival.

Here’s a list of proactive preparations:

A Month Before

1. Pick out your hardware, tiles and other details. You want the “odds and ends” finalized before the contractor begins to work. Give your contractor the exact price, make and model you’re looking for so there aren’t any surprises when the final bill arrives. The best time to do this is before the contractor even presents an itemized bid! Tip: If you can’t choose the exact tile or hardware you want to use, give the contractor a specific price range for the items you’re considering. That way, unexpected costs won’t push the project over budget.

2. Put together a project notebook. Your notebook can be an old-school scrapbook, or it can live on a Pinterest board. The point is, you want to be able to show your contractor a clear vision for what you expect out of the project and what style you’re interested in emulating. That way, if there is a question or a point of contention down the road, you’ll be able to solve the problem quickly. Tip: To keep track of specific brands and model numbers, create a free BrightNest account and store the details in your Homefolio. This works great for floor types, countertop materials and paint colors.

3. Create a contingency plan. Even if you’ve planned ahead and set a realistic budget, it’s important to have a contingency plan. Set aside at least five percent of the project’s overall budget for unexpected expenses. If you’ve done your homework and hired a reliable contractor, this should be more than enough to cover any issues.

A Week Before

1. Choose your contractor experience. Do you want to see the contractor every day and have them check in after each step? Or do you want to give the professional a key and not see them until the job is done? Decide now! That way, you can communicate with your contractor ahead of time and let them know what type of interaction you’re expecting.

2. Schedule a meeting to go over the project. Your project will be much more likely to go smoothly and stay on budget if decisions are made in advance. Schedule a meeting to talk to your contractor ahead of time about every detail, from paint color to size of trim. The majority of problems occur because of miscommunication over these small details, so be prepared to get specific. Make sure to touch on worst-case scenarios with them during this meeting – what will the worst possible outcome cost you? This information is valuable if a problem should arise.

3. Set up accommodations for your kids and pets. Not only will kids and pets make progress move slower – they can actually be in danger while a job is going on! It’s best practice to keep your kids and pets far from the action.

4. Designate a bathroom. Before your contractor and his or her crew show up, decide how they’ll fit into your home. Designate a bathroom for them and determine how you’ll accommodate them while they’re working in your house. When they arrive, communicate your plan to them to avoid an awkward bathroom run-in. Note: If it’s not feasible for the crew to use your bathrooms, you or the contractor can usually arrange to have a portable toilet brought to your property.

A Day Before

Clean up the area they’ll be working in. Think ahead and make your contractor’s life easier by cleaning the area they’ll be in. If it’s in a bedroom, make sure there aren’t clothes on the floor or obstacles like furniture in their way. Note: If you need to move a lot of furniture or items around (as in empty a room or empty kitchen cabinets) we recommend you tackle the job a week in advance.

After the Job is Over

Do a final check. Before you hand over the final bill, look at the job with a critical eye, making sure of the following:

  • You approve of the quality of work and believe it meets the standards discussed in preliminary talks.
  • You know (and have proof) that all of the subcontractors and suppliers have been paid.
  • The job site is clean and there aren’t any leftover materials.

If any of these points are an issue, don’t be afraid to work with your contractor until you’re satisfied!

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