Working with your building contractor can be challenging because construction concepts and terminology aren't part of our everyday language. Like being in a different country, it's similar to your friends talking about their work and using terminology that means nothing to you. When home owners talk to contractors they face the same challenge.
New terminology, different backgrounds and having contractors work in your home can be stressful. That's why many people delay necessary repairs to their home or put off building that special room they've dreamed of for years. By spending time learning about your home, basic concepts and terminology related to your project at HomeTips4Women.com, you can reduce stress and have positive communication with your home pros.
Partnering With Your Home Pros
It is important to recognize these challenges exist. Homeowners increase their chances of having a positive experience when they view working with their contractor as a partnership. Through open and ongoing communications, you will develop effective working relationships with most contractors and achieve the results you are looking for on schedule and budget. Important topics that home owners and contractors should focus on in their communication include:
- A written agreement on scope of work, assumptions and responsibilities of the contractor(s) and home owner. A change request process should also be agreed to up front.
- Ground rules for managing the project with a focus on everyone's safety
- Schedule for reviewing progress and handling day-to-day questions.
Scope of Work
Any project should begin with clearly documented specifications to insure that all parties have a common understanding of the work to be completed. Assumptions about scheduling, payment, materials and the responsibilities of both the contractor and home owner should be included as part of this document. When changes are required, a written “change order” should be used to communicate the agreed to changes along with associated costs. Planning questions that should be addressed in the contract include:
- Who will clear the work areas of furniture? Have homeowners removed all valuables?
- How will trash removal be handled, i.e. dumpster? bagged for homeowner disposal?
- What protective measures will be taken to protect the work area, i.e. dust containment?
- Does any landscaping need to be moved or protected?
There are numerous questions that can arise when a contractor is working in someone's home. By recognizing roles and responsibility early, misunderstandings can be avoided. Critical to a successful project are the following:
- Work Hours – should be established to maintain balance between the family living in the home during the project and the contractor(s) who need to complete a full day's work to keep the project on schedule. Discuss start and stop times for weekdays, and whether weekend work is acceptable. An after hours phone number for emergencies is helpful.
- Work Site Rules – help avoid uncomfortable situations during the project:
- What restrictions are there on contractors using the bathroom?
- Is there a designated eating or smoking area?
- Are there any parking restrictions the contractor should know about?
- Where will materials and contractor tools be stored?
- What protected areas (garage, porch, basement) can be used during bad weather?
- Safety on the Work Site – is critical in any construction environment. Address the following:
- Where will pets be kept during working hours?
- What rules are needed for children during working hours?
- Review outlets and water available for contractor use, along with guidelines for avoiding power cords and hoses on the property.
- Cleaning Up – is the contractor's responsibility. When working in an occupied home, care should be taken to protect floors, furniture, delicate fixtures and where possible, limit dust to the immediate work area. While cleaning up throughout the day improves safety, the work area should be left broom clean at the end of each work day.
Ideally the homeowner will be available to review progress on a daily basis at either the end of the day or first thing in the morning. This allows for timely discussion and resolution of any issues or simply clarification of items such as materials, colors or timing of work so there are no surprises.