I recently had some work done in my house, but I’ve had other work done here and there by outside contractors. Though I think we did pretty well overall, I also believe there were a few things I should have done differently that might have made the process not only go a little smoother, but might have saved usome money or enhanced their time. Here are 4 of those tips, though it might be difficult getting some of these pushed through.

1. Ask them what they need and then go buy it yourself.

Contractors review plans
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
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Although the work the contractors did was good, on one day 5 hours was wasted as he and his associate drove all over the city trying to find a window that fit the space where the window needed to go, and he never found it. He also purchased a door that works well, but wasn’t the kind of door I wanted. I gave him money up front to make those purchases, but I found out later that I could have saved $100 if I’d bought them myself.

The second contractor renovated one of my bathrooms. In that case, it wouldn’t have mattered if I knew what he was going to do (I didn’t lol) because I had no idea what I actually wanted. In the end, it made sense to let me pick out what he wanted to use, and in this instance he was getting a discounted price because of everything he needed to get the job done.

2. Get a contract.

Any reputable person won’t mind giving you a contract, and you can pay them with a check or cash. Without a contract, you give someone money and they never show up, you just lost that money. Also, if you paid them cash, even if they did the work and you bought the materials, you can’t even think about claiming anything on your taxes.

A contract also freezes the price if anything goes wrong or it takes them longer to do the job than they estimated. They’re stuck with that price they gave you, although if they needed extra material you’ll probably still have to pay for that.

3. Get some kind of time clause built into the contract.

This is one where things might get sticky. No contractor is going to sign something saying they’ll have a certain item built or installed within so many hours. Instead, the contract should state the day they’ll show up, the time, and how many hours or days minimum they’ll work on the project. Because my house presented many challenges with the first contracted job, it actually took 2 1/2 days to complete everything that, in a normal house, might have only taken the 5 hours he’d predicted. The second was estimated to take 5 days, and that’s all it took; whew!

With the first gig however, one problem was he didn’t buy the window or doors until we gave him a deposit on the day he was supposed to do the work, and he was gone almost 6 hours. That means I had to sit around the house waiting because I had no idea when he’d be back, and of course he never called. Had I known about that up front I’d have given him the money way beforehand so he could have shown up and gone to work. Still, if there had been some kind of time clause where, if he hadn’t done so much work in a day that I got a 5% discount or something.

4. Always have cold water or something else cold for them to drink.

For the first contracted job, it turned out that the 3 days they were at my house were all very hot days. Because I had to keep the doors open, especially when they were replacing the window, it was hot inside as well. It wasn’t until the second day when I remembered there were bottles of water in our second refrigerator in the garage that were cold ,and that I should offer them some. That was greatly appreciated, and instead of having to keep taking breaks because of how hot and tired they were, they were able to continue working, and efficiently at that. The cost of 24 bottles of water were $3.99; their hourly rate was much higher than that.

For the second gig, it was done in the month of November, and they brought their own water to help keep them going. At least with them I remembered the water, but they were fine on their own.
 

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