Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Need Tips for Dealing with a Contractor

We need your input/help. We usually do home renovations ourselves. Since buying our 1978 fixer-upper four years ago here's what we've accomplished:

1.  Pulled out the carpet in the kitchen (YES!! they covered the kitchen floor with that ubiquitous blue office carpet. GROSS!) and the gold shag carpet in the living and dining rooms and replaced it with a nice maple laminate.

2. Built an island, complete with wine fridge and tiled countertop, in the kitchen and pulled out the poo-colored brown laminate backsplash and replaced it with a nice glass tile.

3. Ripped out the 1970's bar (complete with gold laminate countertop) in the family room, flipped it around on the wall, refinished it, built a new top and added bookshelves above -- voila, a "built in" bookcase!

4. Lots of other ripping out of ugly wallpaper (we had TIKI HEADS on our dining room wall!) and painting of various surfaces.

But this latest project has us a bit flumoxed (I *don't* to electricity!), so we're calling in the experts.  The first contractor is coming this morning. What advice do you have? What questions should we ask? What should we be watching for when choosing which contractor to go with?

Thanks in advance!


  1. For those who might be facing a similar situation... I put out this query on Facebook and Twitter (@tanyaott1) and got the following advice:

    @gellenbolt A) don't believe a word they say that isn't in writing. Get everything in writing and signed. B) If they try to split work into separate contracts, don't let them. It's a perfect excuse for them to not finish. get references

    From Stephanie D on Facebook: You need good communication skills. Make sure he will update you at the end of each day or segment with what he's done and what is happening next, if there are unforeseen issues you want to know right away. Also ask him how detail oriented he is, you want someone who cares about the little things so your lines are straight and everything looks perfect at the end. Good luck!

  2. Another tip from Facebook friend Mary H:

    Make sure you spell out exactly what's covered on the estimate. Sounds obvious, but I really don't like the "soap dish" things to be attached to the bathtub, and the contractor put them in before I knew he was doing it. Not a deal-breaker or a big deal, but annoying.

  3. Another suggestion from FB friend Eric G (an attorney):

    Make sure your contract has timelines and he or she is paid according to the work being completed in the stages. Also, get a copy of his/her business licenses and driver license, that way if there is a problem and you need to identify them, you will have that info

  4. And from FB friend and Necessary Pleasures reader Iris W:

    Make him breakfast.., makes them more productive & willing to return in a timely manner.. It always works for me ...a lil bribery goes a long way... :-)

    (LOVE IT!)