Secrets Contractors Won't Tell You

Secrets Contractors Won’t Tell You – How To Have a Productive Remodel

Similar to purchasing a home, completing a large home renovation and working with contractors is a rare occurrence for most people. In the case of a property purchase, people would engage an experienced real estate agent to guide them through the process. But you are on your own when it comes to renovations. With minimal expertise, you’ll have to do your best to generate a budget, plan a design, purchase materials, and locate, interview, and select contractors.

This is not an easy undertaking and may frequently become a stressful ordeal or even a remodeling nightmare. Unfortunately, more than half of homeowners have a terrible experience with their renovation or contractor. If you have the misfortune of working with a poor contractor, you may find yourself in a difficult contractor dispute.

Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence. When working with contractors, homeowners frequently encounter the following issues: significant project delays, poor craftsmanship, unjustified extra charges, poor communication, and unresponsiveness.

As previously mentioned, more than half of all homeowners have a difficult remodeling or contractor issue. Why does this occur so frequently? There are several causes. In some instances, the client’s expectations are just too great.

Also, occasionally people end up with a very terrible contractor because they don’t conduct sufficient research and choose a contractor based only on cost/price and their “gut” feeling about that person. But I believe the most fundamental cause of contractor disagreements is what I refer to as a knowledge imbalance between the contractor and client. Listed below are instances in which this relationship can benefit the contractor:

Contractor knowledge imbalance

1. The Knowledge Disparity

The contractor understands a great deal about construction and prices, whereas the client typically has little knowledge. This mismatch makes it easy for a dishonest contractor to mislead a client on costs, quality, materials, etc., and the client has no way of knowing. The client has no means of knowing if “change orders” and additional costs are real or not if the contractor is dishonest.

Contractors understand the quality of work required to fulfill industry standards and building code, whereas homeowners do not. Because the client has inadequate construction knowledge, they cannot always determine if the contractor is producing quality or substandard work. Similarly, contractors are aware of the quality of the materials they employ. Frequently, the homeowner is ignorant of whether their contractor is employing high-quality or substandard products. 

2. Controlling Delays During a Remodel

A homeowner has little control over large contractor delays. It can be extremely aggravating when a project drags on and on, preventing you and your family from enjoying your home. Although contractors dislike delays too, they are less affected by them because they do not live in the home being remodeled. Frequently, a client feels helpless in this circumstance because the only thing they can do is ask the contractor to move faster… and the contractor has the option to comply or not. 

Contractor Delays during project - Remodeling Secrets

3. Qualities of a Good General Contractor

It is tough for a homeowner to determine the quality of a contractor. Prior to selecting a contractor, there are no actual means for a client to ascertain the following essential information: Are his employees dependable and well-trained? Does the individual take pride in his or her work? Does he accept too many jobs at once and get overbooked, delaying some of his projects? Are they upfront about additional fees? Etc. The contractor is aware of all these characteristics about themselves, yet they will only discuss their positive attributes with the client.

4. Handling Contractor Disputes

In the event of a contractor disagreement, the majority of the responsibility falls on the homeowner. If a client believes that their contractor is not performing to their standards, they are free to terminate them or cease paying them (per the language in their contract). However, they will be left with a filthy, unfinished renovation project. I do not know many people who can live with an incomplete kitchen for an extended period of time. In addition, the contractor will still wish to be compensated for completed work and can take measures to ensure payment. Finally, if a homeowner terminates their contractor, it will be difficult and stressful to find a replacement to complete the task.

5. Convoluted Construction Contracts

Contractors use a legal work agreement (contract) that is probably biased in their favor. They utilize this contract for every job, therefore they are well-versed in its provisions. Homeowners rarely deal with legal contracts for construction, and as a result, they likely do not know what essential features should or should not be included. Obviously, a client can engage an attorney to evaluate the contractor’s agreement, but few individuals are willing to pay exorbitant legal expenses. 

There is no straightforward mechanism for a homeowner with an issue with a poor contractor, or who has fired a contractor for nonperformance, to report the contractor or resolve a contractor dispute. You can make a claim with the contractor’s Surety Bond, but it will be a lengthy and complicated procedure, and you may never receive anything. Alternatively, you may report a contractor to the state licensing board for contractors or the Attorney General. Depending on the state, their personnel may assist you in attempting to arbitrate a resolution with the contractor, but this will take time. Depending on the amount of your claim, you can sue a contractor in either small claims court or superior court. Clearly, these procedures are unpleasant, difficult, and time-consuming, with no assurance of success.

Ensure that your contractor’s license is valid and in good standing with the state licensing authority.

If you must sue your contractor in small claims court, it will undoubtedly be a time-consuming and stressful process.

If the case is more substantial and you must sue them in Superior Court, it will be more costly since you will be required to pay attorney fees. In contrast, if you refuse to pay a contractor for any reason, they have Mechanic’s Lien rights. They can file the necessary documentation with the County Recorder for a low cost, which will place a lien on your property and prevent you from selling or refinancing it without paying off this permanent obligation. To get the lien removed from the title, you must engage an attorney and appear in court.

What To Do Before Hiring a Contractor

As can be seen, the relationship between the homeowner and contractor is rather complicated. These possible concerns make the thought of renovation understandably intimidating. When working with contractors, it is essential to prepare as thoroughly as possible for your project. There are a few things everyone should do before, during, and after a remodel to increase their chances of having a positive experience and avoiding a conflict with the contractor.

Before selecting and hiring a contractor, you must take a number of precautions to guarantee you don’t wind up with a bad one who will leave you with the issues outlined above. Hiring a trustworthy contractor increases your chances of having a pleasant experience. 

Important measures include ensuring that the contractor’s license is active and legitimate, confirming all required forms of insurance, examining internet ratings and reviews, and contacting at least three references. 

Establish Clear Communication and Expectations Early

When you’ve discovered a reliable contractor, it’s a good idea to communicate your expectations in advance. In order to accomplish this, Greatbuildz asks all of our contractors to sign a “Contractor Code of Conduct” that specifies how they must deal with our customers. Before employing a contractor, you may want to peruse our Code of Conduct and ask them to agree to these obligations.

Pay Attention To Your Contractor and Their Work

Once you’ve engaged a contractor, you’ll want to keep a careful eye on the project and be on the lookout for any red flags so you can promptly resolve any issues.

Ensure that the workforce is working every day. If the contractor begins missing complete days and creating excuses, this is a warning sign that you may have delays.

If a contractor wants more money than anticipated much too early in the project, this may indicate that they are experiencing financial difficulties.

If a contractor is unresponsive or unreasonably delayed answering you, it could be an indication that they are too busy with other projects or that they are dealing with “pressure” or another issue that prevents them from speaking with you.

Walk The Job Site

Multiple times per week, and ideally once per week alongside the contractor or project manager, the homeowner should inspect the job’s progression. When the contractor is there, you have the chance to ask questions and address concerns.

However, it is a good idea to view the project’s progress alone and examine the quality of their work with care. Occasionally, you should unannouncedly visit the job site in the middle of the day…just to confirm that the entire workforce is working.

Keep a ‘Punch List’

Ensure you do your part to keep the project on track by selecting and ordering materials in a timely manner, so the contractor is not kept waiting. Also, maintain an ongoing “punch list” of issues you observe and present it to the contractor throughout the duration of the project.

You should communicate any quality issues to the contractor as soon as you discover them, rather than waiting until the finish. In order to accomplish this, the homeowner must monitor the renovation’s quality on a frequent basis, not just when the job is nearly complete.

You CAN Have a Positive Renovation Experience

In general, working with contractors may be challenging and unpleasant. However, if you choose a competent contractor, it is rare that they will perform a bad job. Unfortunately, a poor contractor’s focus is just getting paid and moving on, as opposed to caring about the project outcome.

If you are concerned that your contractor may not be performing quality work, you may want to hire a home inspector, retired contractor, or another impartial expert to assess the work before making the final payment. Before the final payment, you must insist that the contractor perform any necessary final repairs. 

Lastly, I strongly advise homeowners to maintain reasonable expectations of their contractors. Even with qualified contractors, the majority of jobs will take longer and cost more than anticipated. Notably, there exists a balance between reasonable and unjustified delays and additional costs. Although a 10-20% delay or cost overrun on a project is acceptable for even the best contractors, 50-100% delays or overcharging is not normal and may indicate a dishonest or poorly managed contractor.

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