Large Renovations? Working with Contractors Do’s and Don’ts

When you're planning a large renovation, it's important to select the right contractors for the job. Here are some do's & don'ts to keep in mind to get the renovations you want as quickly and efficiently as possible.

When you’re planning a large renovation, it’s important to select the right contractors for the job. There are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind so you can get the renovations you want as quickly and efficiently as possible. Here are a few essential tips to remember.

Do Your Research

It’s crucial to do your research before your renovation project begins. Make sure you research all aspects of your renovation before you get quotes from contractors. You should know the basic steps necessary to complete your project and get a feel for various approaches to remodeling so you’ll know what to expect. For instance, one painting contractor may suggest using a tinted primer before applying latex paint, and another contractor may use one coat of self-priming paint. If you know what the industry standards are, you can negotiate the lowest price for the work you need.

Don’t Approach Renovations Like an Expert

Even though you’re doing your research, remember you’re not an expert. Your project isn’t going to be completed in the way and time frame that you may see on home improvement shows. There are construction crew members that are working behind the scenes to complete a renovation, and the mistakes are edited out so you don’t see what went wrong during the project.

A trustworthy contractor will keep you updated about any changes and discuss possible solutions with you, especially if additional costs are involved. Make sure your contractor will show you where the issues are and explain how and when these problems will be fixed so you’ll have an accurate timeline for completion.

Don’t Take the Lowest Bid

You should get competitive bids for your remodeling project, but don’t automatically take the lowest bid. It’s best to call about three contractors for smaller projects, but you should contact around five contractors if you’re planning for an extensive renovation.

The lowest bid is not always indicative of the best deal. Beware of contractors who are eager to lower the price so you’ll select them. These contractors will often add hidden costs and fees once the project is over, so you’ll still end up paying the same price as you would for a more reputable contractor.

Do Negotiate for the Best Price

It’s best to negotiate so you can get the best price for your renovation. Select the top contractors in your area and give them an opportunity to bid against each other. Most reputable contractors will be willing to negotiate with you. If the contractor won’t go down on the price, you may be able to get a discount on materials. For instance, the contractor may give you a choice between new and used heavy equipment to perform your renovation, or you can save between 5 and 25% on items from suppliers. Some contractors may also offer you a significantly lower price on labor to get the job, but they will often make up for it during the renovation through high price markups on the materials needed to complete your construction project.

Don’t Overdo Negotiations

Contractors usually pay high overhead and insurance costs, especially if the contractor is working with a team. While these contractors definitely want your business, they may pass on your project if they feel that you’re undervaluing their skill and expertise. It’s not appropriate to ask for a bottom-line price, but you also shouldn’t ask your contractor to compete with the worst contractors in the area. Find the best price you can, but remember to be fair.

Don’t Overlook Payment Terms

Payment terms can vary significantly between contractors. Be sure you completely understand all the terms of your renovation contract. Make sure you pay your contractor on time, especially if the team is efficient and does quality work. If you don’t feel that your contractor is doing the job correctly, you’re well within your rights to withhold all or a portion of your payment until the work is completed according to your standards and meets the conditions of your contract. Communicate with your contractor so you’ll know how much should be paid at certain time periods. Clear communication protects both you and the contractor and helps you avoid misunderstandings.

Keep these helpful tips in mind so you can get the renovations you’ve always wanted to make your home more comfortable and add features that fit your design aesthetic.

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