How I Got My Contractor To Stay On Budget and Timeline

contractor

By Peter Schick

I’d been down this road before.

It doesn’t always end well!

My fiancé wanted to get our bathroom redone and I couldn’t blame her, it was pretty dingy.  She had a friend who did remodeling so naturally we give him a call.  He shows up, we tell him what we want, he gave us a quote and said he would be finished in two days.  Easy day!

Well…not really.

It didn’t take two days, it took over two weeks.  And this really sucks when you only have one bathroom!  Nor was it the price we were originally quoted, it was over 50% more expensive.  Since he was my fiancées friend we never got anything in writing, all on a hand shake.  He made several mistakes that required him to return to fix once we were done as well.

Not so easy.

I never owned a home before and my DIY skills are pretty basic to say the least.  I also never expected something as basic as this to be such a pain in the ass!  It didn’t take long for me to realize the mistakes I made.

Fast forward five months.

The aluminum siding on our house is pretty old and the paint on it had been oxidizing, making what was originally green look like puke yellow.  We had been saving up and been meaning to get this done so the beginning of summer seemed like the right time to do it.

So here we go again.

I took the lessons I learned from my first experience and came up with a system to avoid the endless headaches I had when I got my bathroom done

-Get contractors to compete for your work: Get multiple contractors to give you quotes, not just the one that your friends or family recommended. Why?  Because you need a point of reference in terms of the price that is quoted.  This will help keep the contractor honest and you will get a better idea of what the project should cost.  Of note: if one of the quotes is unusually low, don’t select them.  This is a sign that they are likely to cut corners.

-Get the budget, timeline, and scope of work in writing: Separate the project into phases.  Each phase should have a detailed description of the work that will be completed.  Each phase should also have a start date and an end date associated with it.  Tie in payment draws to your contractor based off these phases.

-Set your Carrots and Sticks: Do not pay your contractor the final payment draw until the project is complete to your specifications. If the time it takes to complete your project is critical, you can attach incentives to each phase of your project like a bonus if your contractor finishes early.  You can also make incentives to keep your contractor within budget as well.  Say you set your budget at $2000.  If your contractor completes the project and only spends $1800 he gets to keep the difference.  If your contractor completes the project but spends $2500, he is responsible for the difference.

-Be actively involved: Check other the progress of your project daily, if possible. Interface with your contractor and ask questions in regards to the projects status.  Being involved and asking questions on a regular basis will not only give you peace of mind, but it will also help keep the project on timeline.

Remodeling your house does not have to be an unending nightmare.  If you come in with a solid plan and keep your contractor accountable you will greatly reduce headaches and stress!