How to Deal with Contractors During a Remodel


It’s true: living through remodels and renovations puts even the best of relationships under strain. The house is in chaos, your sleep schedule is thrown out of whack, you can’t find anything and—worst of all—there are strangers tromping all over your previously quiet and orderly home at what feels like all hours of the day.

For most homeowners it is dealing with the contractor and his/her crew that proves to be the most difficult part of living through a remodel. Even when the contractor and team hired are great people and everybody gets along, things can get really stressful. Here are some tips for coping with that.

1. Get All of Your Legal Ducks in a Row

Before a single nanosecond of work is done on your home, make sure that your and your contractor’s legal behinds are 100% covered. This means making sure that you have your contracts and projections in writing. It means having proof of your contractor’s certification and licensing on hand.

2. Insure Insure Insure

We don’t just mean that you should have amazing insurance coverage (though you should). We mean that your contractor should also have amazing insurance coverage. Companies like Target Insurance and Financial Services have lists of what their insurance does in fact cover. Make sure that your contractor has more than just the basics! This way, if there is an accident or problem, you won’t have to figure out how to pay for that on top of what you’d already budgeted for this renovation or remodeling project. This will decrease your stress exponentially, we promise.

3. Know What You Want

Trust your contractor’s instincts when it comes to the structural integrity of your home (as well as with electrics and plumbing).  If your contractor advises you against knocking down a wall because it’s a load bearing wall, that’s valuable advice and you should heed it.

Every other time, though, the decisions are yours. Sure you can ask his opinion about the best height for that window or where the outlet should go but ultimately the decision is yours. If you leave everything up to him and his crew, they’ll build it however is most convenient for them. Know what you want ahead of time so that, when your contractor has to ask you a question about where something should go, you’ll be able to give a definitive answer. It makes things easier for both of you.

4. Cleaning Up is Important

Your contractor and his crew should clean up their mess every night before they leave. This helps make the space more livable for you if you are living on site during the project. It also makes it easier for them to get started the next day.

To that end, you should also have any messes you’ve made in the space cleaned up before your contractor and his crew show up for work each day. They shouldn’t have to wait for you to get things ready for them (and remember: you’ll be billed for every minute they spend on site, whether it’s spent standing there or working).

5. Keep the Relationship Professionally Friendly

You aren’t likely living your own version of Under the Tuscan Sun. It’s nice to bond with your contractor and her crew. Feeling friendly and liking the people tromping all over your house makes the process easier on everyone. Still, these people are your employees and there need to be some boundaries there. When you blur the lines between professional and personal, things go awry very quickly.

Finally, try to be patient. Remodeling and renovating take time and they always take more time than was anticipated. But trust us, before long your only worry will be keeping your home clean and you might even miss your contractor and her crew!