How To Work With Contractors To Get What You Want

Hiring a contractor to work on your home renovation project is a big task. Finding the right person for the job will demand time and effort that may be hard to find in your busy schedule. However, making time is crucial to getting the job done right and ensuring that you remain in control of the budget and scale of the project.

Most contractors are honest and hardworking individuals, but everyone has heard nightmare stories about home improvement projects gone wrong. To head off any potential difficulties with your contractor and team, it's important to maintain a presence in the project throughout its many phases, according to House Beautiful.

From the initial consultation to the completed renovation, these key features of a great working relationship can help you get exactly what you're bargaining for in your home improvement project and contractor relationship.

Build lasting relationships

The most important feature of a healthy relationship with contractors and service technicians is found in the weeks and months that predate a job. It's often a good idea to work with the same firm or individual on multiple projects to build a long-term relationship beyond the singular business arrangement. Spark Rental suggests getting to know contractors before you need to lean on their services. Building relationships ahead of an emergency or upcoming project will help you find contractors you can trust and secure more favorable terms on a broader scale.

Source multiple quotes for every job

No matter what you might think of a contractor (based on a first impression or through years of work), sourcing bids or quotes for an upcoming project is essential (via Angi). Contractors are in a highly competitive business space, and they will often work to match or beat other prices. Likewise, because the job of any remodel can be so liquid, it's hard to understand the value that any particular contractor brings to the table unless you can compare their rates and work history with others. Speak to multiple contractors before signing any contract.

Read reviews and hunt for client feedback

Contractors often come to a meeting armed with a list of previous clients. These are great for helping you to get a better sense of their abilities, but this list is curated to include only the most satisfied customers. A contractor might work on dozens of large projects throughout the year, and online review services have become a key resource for homeowners looking to hire the best for their renovation vision, according to NADRA. Reading reviews will help you gain a better sense of the actual job performance of any contractor that you're thinking of hiring.

Work to retain the upper hand

Looking desperate is a surefire way to overpay on your next repair or renovation project, according to Spark Rental. While it's crucial to foster great relationships with contractors and technicians that work on your property, you should never forget that they are in the business of making money. Most contractors are trustworthy and honest individuals, but if you look desperate for a quick fix, you should expect to pay more for the privilege than it might typically cost — this is just the way business works through the lens of supply and demand.

Read every contract carefully

Contracts contain a lot of stipulations and precise jargon. Within the contract, you'll find timelines for completing key phases of the work, pricing calculations, and more. The contract can work for you as a means of protection, but it can also hinder your ability to hold your contractor accountable. Reading over every line in the contract will help you understand the entire set of terms surrounding the project and your recourse if something isn't done correctly.

Reading the contract before signing will also help you ensure that the whole agreement is preserved in the written document.

Look for discount opportunities anywhere you can

Spark Rental notes that many contractors immediately put up a sign advertising their business and presence on your property. Securing a discount for the privilege of this advertising is a great way to reduce the price.

Another simple approach to sourcing a great deal on the project is to purchase materials for the job yourself (via Angi). Every contractor will mark up the price of materials. Most will do this responsibly, but you can't ever be entirely certain that the materials aren't coming at a substantial markup. Buying materials yourself solves this mystery.

Carefully consider your options when revealing budgetary details

It's important to discuss budgetary limits. This helps both parties understand the parameters of the job more fully. The Honest Carpenter recommends being candid with your expectations surrounding the overall budget. This helps you gain a sense of the limits that your cash will stretch while providing the contractor with a realistic figure to work with.

However, this can be a problem for your bargaining power, as well (via Spark Rental). Revealing too much can sway the negotiation out of your favor. This is another reason to source multiple price quotes!

Structure financial deadlines in your favor

Typically, payment on a contract is made across pre-set points in the building process (via Spark Rental). This often coincides with new material purchases. However, contractors will be inclined to get as much cash upfront as possible. You will want the opposite.

The longer you can wait to pay for expenses, the stronger your position. If differences arise throughout the project, your contractor may simply walk away if they've structured the financials in their favor — leaving the job unfinished with more of your money than they've earned.

Maintain a presence in the worksite and project direction

Managing the project specifics is the job of the general contractor. However, as the homeowner, it's your responsibility to oversee their work to ensure that your remodel is continuing on schedule and as planned. Being present is the best way to create this sense of accountability across the team working on your home (via How Stuff Works).

Being at the home as often as possible will keep your contractor and their team working hard throughout the renovation. Micromanagement is problematic, but simply maintaining a presence will ensure good continuity.