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Home improvement projects for which contractors are needed are both exciting and stressful endeavors. Homeowners have a vision of what the finished project will look like. Still, too often, the journey to reaching that beautiful result can be stressful—particularly when common problems with contractors arise.
Fortunately, knowing what those problems could be and how to prevent or solve them will help homeowners to ensure the project stays on schedule and budget while also producing desired results. Today’s blog post reviews four problems you may encounter with your interior renovation contractor mid-project, and how you can work through them to reach the results you envisioned.
1. Poor-Quality Work
Nothing frustrates homeowners more than disappointing work from a professional contractor. Poor-quality work can be the result of hiring an inexperienced contractor or a contractor who doesn’t properly manage their team. It can also happen when the contractor hired doesn’t actually do the work, but instead hires a subcontractor to do it.
One of the best ways to ensure a successful project is to hire an experienced and reputable contractor. Before hiring any contractor, homeowners should ask friends, neighbors, and relatives for contractor recommendations as well as for any contractors to avoid. Homeowners should also make sure to hire a licensed contractor. Finally, homeowners should read contractor reviews on websites like the Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List, and Yelp.
When interviewing prospective contractors, homeowners should ask how they manage their team and if the contractor will be doing the work or will be stopping in periodically to monitor their team’s progress. Also, be sure to ask if any aspect of the project will be subcontracted. Homeowners should be sure that the contract specifies these types of details.
2. Contract Concerns
Not having a legal agreement with a contractor or having only a generic one that does not include key elements can leave homeowners at a loss for being able to hold contractors accountable for their work. Contracts protect homeowners as well as contractors by clearly defining expectations and responsibilities.
Every contract for small to large home improvement projects should include a clear project plan that lays out the scope of work, timeline, materials list, and payment schedule. It should also outline how changes to the scope of work—known as “change orders”—will be handled and who would be responsible for paying extra costs caused by those changes.
Ideally, contracts should also cover how payments can be delayed when work is running behind schedule or is not of the promised quality. If a contractor is missing deadlines or the contract work is not meeting quality expectations, homeowners can refer to the contract to help remind the contractor of how payment will be adjusted or delayed.
The contract should also identify under which circumstances the contractor covers costs for fixing mistakes they’ve made. After all, homeowners shouldn’t have to pay for additional supplies and time needed to redo shoddy work.
Almost every home improvement project experiences delays. Exterior projects can be affected by the weather. And, right now, the COVID-19 pandemic is causing problems for everyone. Delays often have little to do with the contractor. For example, material shipments are sometimes late, and there can be problems—especially right now—with material shortages.
Homeowners need to expect delays as these are inevitable. Planning ahead for at least some aspects of your project getting behind schedule will help reduce stress and create realistic expectations. Good contractors will also expect delays and will have developed leeway in their work schedule to accommodate these issues so the job can still finish on time.
Homeowners can cause delays when they decide to change the scope of work after it has begun—those “change orders” we talked about in the previous section. How much additional time the project will take depends upon the nature and scope of the changes. These changes can also impact the overall project costs. Having clear communication with contractors about any changes and what they will do to the schedule is critical.
Contractors can cause delays themselves when they make mistakes, like not ordering enough materials or installing something incorrectly. These mistakes will take time to fix. Fortunately, your contract should identify how such delays will be handled, so you don’t have any surprises.
Perhaps the most frustrating delays are those caused by problems neither the contractor nor homeowners could have anticipated. Cutting into a wall only to find mold or termites, for example, will put a halt to the project until other professionals can fix those problems.
Ultimately, homeowners should expect delays and strive to be understanding about them. Clear communication with contractors is critical to establishing a new schedule. Good contractors will bring up the subject of potential delays when quoting the project.
Miscommunication can actually cause all of the common problems we’ve already covered. One reason these miscommunications arise is simply that contractors use construction terminology, which is unfamiliar to most homeowners. This can lead to misunderstandings about the project.
Another form of miscommunication involves under-communication or not exchanging enough information, leaving the contractor and homeowner with two separate ideas about the project.
The simple solution to this problem is to communicate clearly. Homeowners should express not only their vision for the project, but also be ready to ask questions when contractors use unfamiliar construction terminology. Both parties should repeat back to each other what each has said to ensure they truly understand.
After a conversation with a contractor about your project, homeowners may also want to follow up with an email that summarizes their understanding of the conversation and the project’s next steps. The clearer and more frequent the communication, the better the working relationship and project results will be.
When there has been a problem with the project, homeowners need to bring it to the contractor’s attention immediately before the project progresses to the next step. In some cases, if homeowners wait until the next step is completed, fixing the mistake may be even harder to do. If the contractor has installed the toilet in the wrong place during a bathroom renovation, for example, homeowners should say something before the floor is tiled.
Good Practices for Working with Contractors
Contractors do their best work when they are appreciated. Homeowners should acknowledge contractors for the hard work they are doing. One effective way to do this is by periodically checking on contractors and complimenting the work.
Providing refreshments and snacks at the start of each workday is perhaps the best way to show appreciation for contractors, especially when the work is physically demanding.
It is impossible to ensure that every home improvement project goes perfectly, stays on schedule, finishes on budget, and matches a homeowner’s vision. But, taking steps to avoid the most common problems will make it more likely that the project will go smoothly and successfully.
Are You Planning a Home Renovation? The Moulding Company Can Help!
Whether you’re a homeowner or a home improvement contractor in California, The Moulding Company has the vast selection of moulding, paneling, and other interior and exterior home improvement products you’re looking for. And, we help you with custom millwork, too!
Need more information or want to talk to a moulding and building materials expert? Call any of our California showrooms near you! (Note: in spring 2020, our showrooms are currently closed for in-store shopping due to the COVID-19 situation. Please call ahead or check our website for updates.)