ESTABLISH CLEAR PROTOCOLS
Some contractors are phone guys, while others prefer text, email, or even handwritten notes. Large remodeling companies might even use construction management software that lets the client track things like scheduling, payments and deliveries. Any mode of communication can work, so long as everyone is clear on the protocol from the beginning. And so long as everyone sticks to the protocol until the end.
PUT EVERYTHING IN WRITING
You wanted the bathroom walls blue but your general contractor paints them green. You can swear you agreed to three recessed canister lights in the hallway, not two. These types of miscommunications will be avoided with a written contract that clearly spells out the full scope of the project. It should include a breakdown of the labor and material costs, right down to the model numbers.
Stay away from so-called allowances, basically blank spaces in the contract for items that are yet to be determined. Besides opening the door to misunderstandings, allowances can blow your budget, for example if products end up costing much more than you expected.
CHECK IN EARLY AND OFTEN
No matter how thorough you are in the planning phase, you still need to check in regularly once the work gets underway. The demo phase often turns up hidden surprises, from termites to structural damage, that you’ll want to discuss in person with your contractor. At the back end of the project, it’s a good idea to review finish details, like paint colors and tile patterns, before they’re applied once and for all.
SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE
Good communication continues after the project is complete, in the form of online reviews. If you had a bad experience, other homeowners need to know about it. Hopefully that won’t be the case, and you’ll be posting a positive review. That will keep up good relations with your contractor and help them secure the new business they deserve. And it will also ensure your place at the front of the line when it comes to future projects.
Dan DiClerico is a reporter for HomeAdvisor, an online marketplace connecting homeowners with trusted service professionals to complete home projects. Visit HomeAdvisor.com