Remodeling your home can feel like a difficult feat. For some, especially those doing a full home renovation, hiring a contractor is an absolute must. Without a contractor, you can potentially ruin your home and drown in debt. Having a contractor on board your home renovation project is a huge asset to ensure that your home turns out beautiful and lasts for decades to come. But, some people find that working with contractors is a bit of a headache. Here are some things that your contractor wants you to know, but probably won’t say unless you ask!
- Don’t be so attached to the old stuff. Here’s the deal about old things – they’re old. And, while they might look like they’re in good condition right now, once you start to remove them to make way for the other upgrades, they might fall apart and it’s not the contractor’s fault. Handling old items requires a delicate and special professionalism that contractors have a network for, but it comes at a pretty penny. Sure, you might be attached to those original cabinets in your home from the 1930s, but it may actually save you more money to purchase brand new RTA cabinets and instead install vintage hardware to make them look a lot like your original ones.
- Don’t just choose the first contractor you find with 5-star reviews. Contractors want to know that you’ve chosen them after a lengthy search. It shows that you won’t get cold feet after signing the contract with them. Take your time researching all the contractors in your area who are accredited. Read the 3- and 4-star reviews carefully. Many people will choose to leave a review only after a bad experience, so looking at them with a critical eye will go a long way in ensuring that you’ve chosen a contractor who’s going to do the best work for your home.
- Don’t bring your family or friends in after hiring a contractor. One of the best parts about hiring a contractor is that they have a network of other professionals to bring in for your job. From hardware specialists, electricians, plumbers and flooring assemblers, these contractors will bring in a group of professionals they know will get the job done. By bringing in your friend or cousin who also works in trades, it’s almost like saying you don’t trust your contractor – and if you don’t trust your contractor, why would you hire them?
- Do be specific about what you want in your space. Being clear, concise and consistent is something that contractors actually love. Make sure you’re doing this prior to starting the demo. It’s important to be specific about what you want in the contract so that everything can be priced and planned accordingly. Otherwise, you’ll quickly find that adjustments are more difficult to make than you think. Once a place is in action, it’s typically set in stone except for major structural changes and necessities.
- Do follow all the jurisdictional rules. Contractors aren’t magicians – and they can’t just violate permit rules or ordinances in your local jurisdiction just because you really want a particular style or design in your home. There’s a reason for those ordinances – and it usually has to do with the structural integrity of homes for the climate you live in. If a contractor violates these rules and laws, they can potentially be fined and lose any licenses they have. No one wants that! Instead, work with your contractor to find a solution that will still give you what you need but doesn’t break any of the rules.
- Budget for structural issues. This is especially if you live in an older home that hasn’t been kept up to code. Bypassing structural issues can really wreak havoc on a project and potentially put anyone who lives in the home in serious danger. From toxic lead paint to rotting floors, it’s important that you budget for structural issues in your home renovation budget, and your contractor will make sure to tell you in advance if he thinks something is going to be a problem. While that might mean you have to install basic but quality kitchen cabinets or go with an alternative countertop option instead of the marble you’ve dreamed of, having a home that’s safe is more important than one that looks like it belongs on the cover of a magazine. You can still achieve a beautiful design, so work with your contractor. They’re your partner in this!
- Fees aren’t negotiable. Most of their fees aren’t negotiable. Contractors have to pay all the people who come in and do work on your home and it’s important that he doesn’t shortchange them. What most people don’t realize is that many construction professionals work for themselves, typically earning an untaxed amount of money and then having to pay the federal, state and local taxes each year at tax time. In fact, the percentage many self-employed people have to budget for paying in taxes each year is 30 percent! If you pay minimal fees to your contractor, then they aren’t able to pay their professionals enough to cover their taxes at the end of the year. Instead of focusing on the fees, look at ways you can decrease the cost of other parts of your project, such as using vinyl flooring instead of hardwood or installing butcher block instead of marble.
- Move out while the work gets done. Sure, you might think cohabitating in your space while the work gets done is doable, but many homeowners quickly find that’s easier said than done. The constant noise, construction dust and milling of people in your space will get old very quickly, and some contractors prefer to have clients off-site so that they don’t get hurt during the process. Staying in your home while work gets done is a serious risk that many contractors aren’t willing to take. Be smart, and let them do their work while you stay with friends, family, in a hotel or in your RV.