In the United States alone there are more than 496,000 remodeling contractors. Like any profession the quality of firms varies but one thing is consistent, there are things they would really like to say to their customers, but they choose to remain silent. Here is a short list of common truths every contractor would like their clients to know.
- 1. Contractors don’t like using materials you bought.
You just scored on hardwood flooring on sale. Or you love a light fixture you bought online. No matter, you think, your contractor will see the brilliance in your design choices.
Truth: It’s like buying cheap brake pads and asking a mechanic to install them only to complain when they squeal. Purchasing materials that may be inferior and then asking your contractor to warranty them isn't realistic or fair to the contractor. Buying products on sale or close-out can also be problematic. Imagine trying to match the color of hardwood flooring because there’s not quite enough to finish the job and then you find out it’s discontinued or the next production run doesn’t match. Image source: Facebook Marketplace
- 2. Contractors are really not interested in using a ‘skilled’ tradesman that you know - or letting the homeowner help for that matter.
Your brother is a plumber. He will be glad to help and for less money. Or, you plan on taking some time off to do the painting yourself to save even more money.
Truth: The family and friends who are tradesmen scare the heck out of good contractors. It is all too common that they put a lower priority on work that is discounted or pro bono, so it ends up impacting the work schedule. If something does go wrong with the work they do, like a pipe leaking in the wall, who are you going to call? Source: Facebook Plumbing Fails
3. Since we’re talking about subs, contractors don’t like it when you ask them to price shop.
You want to be sure you’re getting the best price possible from every sub right?
Truth: As with any relationship, contractors get along with some subs better than others. Contractors and subcontractors who have worked together for years develop a level of respect and trust for each other that makes the whole project run smoother. In the end a sub’s price is likely to be better for a GC he’s used to working with. And secondly, a sub is more likely to do a little extra work when necessary without nickel and diming the homeowner.
- 4. Recycling, Reuse, Repurpose: It’s great for the environment and saves money too…sometimes!
You're building out your basement and need to get the water heater out of the way. And…it’s still got years of use left you say!
Truth: Contractors can’t guarantee appliances or materials that are removed from service and reinstalled or repurposed. A used water heater or HVAC unit can end up mysteriously failing months later. Contractors don’t want the responsibility or the liability, and most importantly, they don’t want to disappoint the homeowner by trying to perform a task with so many unknowns.
Image source: Facebook Marketplace
- 5.Asking for something to be done because you’re having trouble making up your mind or visualizing it.
Picking colors can be hard but asking a contractor to paint an entire wall might be unreasonable.
Truth: Most contractors put a lot of effort into trying to figure out what you desire the end results to be in an effort to help you select the right materials. Fortunately lots of paint companies offer smaller samples that allow customers to experiment without spending a lot on paint. Visualizers are another great tool available today that helps homeowners take pictures and change wall colors. Image source: Forbes.com
- 6. When you change your mind midway through a project it has other effects beyond the obvious.
You just got back from visiting your sister and her kitchen is so beautiful that you decided you want your cabinets white now.
Truth: Not everything can be bought last minute at the big box stores. Lead times vary on everything from plumbing fixtures, to tile to cabinets. Leaving a job to start another job because materials have to be reordered is frustrating for everyone, but it is very costly for the contractor. Getting the contractor to come back before he is done with the next project won’t be easy either. It’s not fair to the other client, and it’s not fair to the contractor who is working hard to make you happy. . Image Source: thekitchn.com
- 7. Limiting the scope of work to save money only to ask for it later is never good.
Well, you're right there tiling the hallway, I mean how much more could it be to tile the closet???
Truth: An area of the home that has four corners, no matter how small, is still considered a room. Whether it's drywall, installing trim or tiling a floor it takes time and material that wasn’t in the original budget. Bear in mind that this kind of move will probably cause the contractor to lose at least a little bit of trust in you, the homeowner, and this can lead to bigger problems. It’s always better to treat others the way you want to be treated (I feel like I’ve heard that somewhere before). Oftentimes this leads to number 8.
- 8. Believe it or not extras are not meant for contractors to increase their margins.
I can’t believe changing to bullnose drywall corners would cost more.
Truth: During some remodel projects homeowners may become weary and begin to question any additional costs. As the excitement of the remodel fades tolerance for scheduling and cost overruns seem to go out the door. Some contractors do intentionally leave items out in order to be the low bidder. The best advice is to make sure the contractor you select is bidding apples to apples with a clearly defined scope of work. Ask the contractor to inform you of any extras as they occur and agree to any changes in writing so you’re not questioning the bill at the end. Some changes require additional labor and some may require special order materials. Image source: Vrieling Woodworks
- 9. Living in the remodel is just as difficult for the contractor as it is for you.
Oh we will be fine without a kitchen sink or functional bathroom. It’s for the good of the cause.
Truth: When contractors have to work in occupied spaces, they worry about decreased production, something getting damaged, lost , broken, or most importantly, someone getting hurt. Trying to minimize dust is challenging. It’s great when homeowners show an interest during the process but when you talk to the crew it slows everything down. Worst of all having something go missing whether it’s a homeowner’s personal item or a contractor's tool is never a good thing.
- 10. Contractors don’t like blowing the budget either.
My contractor said they would be within 10% of our budget. What happened?
Truth: Most contractors create budgets based on designs and materials that are selected during the planning process. If $3 subway tile is in the budget and it gets switched to natural stone during construction, the material and labor costs go up. Every time something gets changed from the original bid the potential exists for blowing past your budget. That’s why good planning is so important.
So there you have it. 10 things that most contractors won’t tell you. Hopefully, these tips will help you see things from the contractors’ viewpoint and have a smoother, better experience. The vast majority of contractors love nothing more than the satisfaction of a job well-done and the fulfillment of knowing that you and your family will enjoy their hard work and skill for years or decades to come.
Great projects that exceed customer expectations are based on excellent planning at the beginning and good communication before, during and after.
One Click Contractor is a software program that gives residential remodel contractors a digital job folder to help contractors and homeowners achieve results that make everyone happy.