This summer we had to repair some water damage on the back of our house, which resulted in us getting a brand new deck and new kitchen floors along with the other repairs that were completed. It went a lot better than I expected – you never know what will happen when you start a home repair project. Thankfully the damage was limited to the areas we planned to repair and we completed the project on time.
I have learned some things the hard way over the years as a homeowner – one of them is how to deal with repair companies and home contractors. Sadly, many of the people you hire to work in your home are either lazy and unprofessional or they are so busy that they do the bare minimum and rush to the next customer. Here are three tips for getting the best out of repair companies and home contractors!
#1 Clear as much of the work space as possible
The night before work began, I cleared the kitchen floors and counters. Paul and I carefully moved everything to one corner of the dining area making sure not to scratch the floor or walls in the process. I set everything up in as pleasing of a fashion as possible, knowing it would be like this for a couple days.
The construction crew ripped the existing floor while moving the fridge (they laid the new floor down over the old one), somehow gouged a hole in the wall while replacing trim and used my kitchen counters to hold their supplies and tools. You could say they weren’t super careful while they were working. 🙂
I’m so glad I moved my own belongings and didn’t let them fling them across the living room. Having the kitchen counters clear gave them room to work and kept my cooking tools nice and clean.
#2 Watch them, watch them, watch them.
Contractors intimidate me because they know everything I don’t about remodeling, repair and home construction. I’m intimidated just to walk into Lowes and try to find what I’m looking for! No matter what, this is still my home and I know how I want it to look when they are finished working. I’m paying them to do a service, so it’s a lot like sitting in the chair at the salon. I won’t tell my stylist how to cut my hair, but I’ll certainly ask questions along the way.
Don’t be intimidated to ask them what they are doing or why something looks the way it does. It might be an in-between stage that they’re going to change, or it might be something you’ll regret allowing once they’re finished.
When we had our floors installed, they had to remove the matching wood trim that originally separated the kitchen floor and the wood floor that covers the living room. I was in my office for 10 minutes and came back down to see that they’d installed horrible strips of metal trim (left picture below) that I hated! We talked to the foreman who had the workers replace it with matching trim that looked so much better (right picture).
I don’t mean this in a negative way, but contractors usually don’t really care how things look at the end of the day. They are just there to do a job and move on to the next one. You’re the homeowner, so you have every right to watch their every move and call them out when they opt for lazy finish or do something you don’t like.
If you’re able, I recommend that you don’t let them leave for the day without inspecting their work and asking them to explain what they’ve done. Certainly don’t let them complete the job and move on to their next customer before you’re able to do this. Be confident in your contract: read every line of the estimate so you know exactly what they’ve promised to do, and hold them to it!
#3 Communicate through one channel
One thing that went really well with our project was the communication. From the very first contact we made, Paul and the foreman communicated through text. Any question or concern I had was relayed from Paul to the foreman. It really helped to have just one of us talking to one of them – making it easy for them to follow up with us and eliminating any confusion on final answers from the company.
Here’s the kitchen, all put back together with new flooring! We chose LifeProof Vinyl Plank Flooring in Breezy Stone and have really been pleased with how it turned out. Having work done in your home can be such a hassle, but the results are so gratifying. I hope your next home project turns out perfectly!