For the die hard do-it-yourselfer, remodeling advice is likely to consist of technical guidance and product specs. For those who are hiring a contractor for their project, the best remodeling advice is not describing how something is built, but how to create a successful homeowner-contractor relationship. There is a right and wrong way to approach any home remodeling project, and the temporary marriage between you and your crew can quickly end in a messy divorce if there is a lack of communication, respect, or ground rules present in your home.
Remodeling Projects Are Better with Breathing Room
Depending on their scope, remodeling projects can take anywhere from 10 days to 18 months, so getting along with your contractors is a must. Many people fall into the pattern of looking at contractors as their employees (after all, the homeowner is paying for this), and, as a result, they get a little bossy, question too many things, and don’t allow contractors the space they need to create something terrific.
The easiest way to create a good environment during remodeling projects is to treat those working on your home with the same respect that you’d treat anyone else you’ve invited into your house. Sure, these folks are getting paid to be there, but that doesn’t mean hospitality won’t make a difference. Personal space is a must for you as well as your hired crew; just as you wouldn’t stand over an artist, hard at work at his easel, and ask “Why did you make that brushstroke?”, you have to give your crew the freedom to do their job.
The creation of a home addition or remodeling a room can be a messy process, and it might be difficult to see how the final product is going to look after each day. Try to be patient, and remember that your contractor is not “invading” your space; you invited the crew, they are there to do a job, and they want it to move as smoothly as you do!
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The Best Remodeling Advice: Set Ground Rules Early
Of course, remodeling projects are not all about pleasing the contractor. You have rules, too, so let your contractor know what they are up front. Rare is the contractor who will turn his or her nose at a client’s house rules, and stating these rules early and clearly will lead to a better experience for all involved. If your contractor is that one in a million who scoffs at your needs, it’s better to know early so you can cut the strings and hire someone else before work begins.
Tell your contractor your preferred morning start time, when you would like them to finish, if you prefer to have all messes cleaned up each night, if they can work Saturdays or Sundays, etc. Keep in mind, however, that if you don’t want them to start too early or work too late or on the weekends, your project is likely to take longer than usual. If you have preferences about where (or if) smoking will be allowed on your property, make them known. If there are pets on your property, make sure to go over any rules that apply to them early. To make sure the lines of communication remain open throughout the project, work out a daily or weekly meeting with the head of your crew where you can discuss progress, problems, changes, outstanding issues, etc. This will give you a chance to talk to your contractor without chewing up too much of his working time, plus it is a space where you have agreed to exchange information.
Accommodating Parking and Bathroom Facilities
One piece of remodeling advice every homeowner should take to heart: when you gotta go, you gotta go. On larger projects, the crew will likely bring a port-o-john with them, which you should set aside a convenient spot for; on smaller remodeling projects, letting your crew use your facilities is the norm. Construction is a messy job, so lay out some towels that you don’t mind getting dirty for workers to dry their hands on and keep the bathroom stocked with soap and other essentials. To the same extent, if you can provide an outdoor hose, electrical access, and perhaps places to break for lunch in the shade, this will also show contractors that you are aware of their needs.
Parking is often an issue on remodeling projects large and small. If at all possible, clear some space in your driveway and at your front curb for the contractors vehicles, equipment, and/or dumpster rental. Your crew will appreciate the convenience, and will be able to work more efficiently, too, which could lead to a project that finishes ahead of schedule.
The Little Extras
While certainly not a requirement, many homeowners have reaped plenty of benefits by going the extra mile. There are tons of nice things you can do for people who are doing work on your home. Lemonade, iced tea, or water on hot days; hot coffee in the morning; the occasional dozen bagels or box of donuts; or even a couple pizzas after a key portion of the work is complete.
Who wouldn’t be appreciative of those kinds of small tokens of thanks? And while you’re enjoying a bagel with the guys, it will give you a chance to get to know them a little better. Now they know who they are working for, who they are letting down when mistakes are made or deadlines are missed. They will also know that the person they are working for appreciates all the hard work they are doing, which goes a long way in any relationship.