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How to Work with a Contractor

Ask This Old House host Kevin O’Connor, general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and HVAC expert Richard Trethewey, mason Mark McCullough, and carpenter Nathan Gilbert discuss the ways homeowners and contractors should communicate to set appropriate expectations for home improvement projects

Steps:

  1. Before partnering with a contractor to work on your house, consider some of the unexpected disruptions or uncomfortable circumstances that could arise between you and the contractor during the project that are worth being prepared for and having appropriate conversations about.
  2. Start by doing as much research as possible on the project to try and understand the scope of the work you’re asking for. Talk to neighbors who have done similar projects, go to the home center and look at the cost of desired materials, etc. The more knowledge you have going into the project, the better informed your questions will be for the contractor.
  3. To avoid “sticker shock” from a contractor quote, consider all the work required by the contractor to complete the job while they aren’t at your house. They will need to purchase and transport materials, train employees, maintain the overhead cost of their business, etc.
  4. Beware the “low bid”. Usually, the low bid is missing “behind-the-scenes” work that can result in long lasting errors in the project.
  5. Be prepared for weather disruptions. Some work can’t happen in the rain, snow, etc., which can exponentially delay a project.
  6. Have materials for the project in mind and consider having backup materials in mind as well. If there are delays in the delivery of the material, that can also slow down the project significantly and a runner-up could save a lot of that time.