If you’ve hired a contractor for a home renovation, rest assured that this professional will get to know you really well. After all, he could be inside your home for weeks or even months, and you two will have lots of quality back-and-forth over what types of tiles, colors, and fixtures best float your boat. As a result, contractors gain an intimate knowledge of who you are—and let’s just say that you aren’t always at your best when stressing over which shade of white to paint the cabinets, or the fact that your home has morphed into a demo zone you’re dying to be done with already!
But remember—contractors are on your side, so it’s within your interests to keep this relationship cordial. In case you’re wondering what your contractor might think but not say to your face, here’s a sneak peek from some home pros who were willing to spill the beans.
1. ‘Just tell me your real budget at the outset’
“Sharing their true budget with their contractor upfront is the best thing a client can do,” says Chris Black of Blackline Renovations in Dallas. “I’ve seen too many times when a client is vague about how much they can spend until the design is complete—and then they can’t afford what they asked for and the project falls apart.”
Jean Brownhill, founder and CEO of Sweeten, agrees. “Contractors wish homeowners would tell them their real budget,” Brownhill says. “Oftentimes homeowners give contractors very loose ideas what it is. That’s frustrating. If a contractor knows the real money situation, they can figure out what work they can get done well within that price range.”
2. ‘I really hope this homeowner hires a designer, too’
“The average homeowner should hire an interior designer,” says Anthony Gisondi, contractor and president of Noreast Property Management. “They can take your ideas and realize them beautifully. Contractors know how to build; designers know how to design. I am not an expert at picking the correct finishes.”
Also, designers can work with contractors directly to be much more efficient and ensure everything is ordered at the right time.
“It saves the homeowner money, too, because you can present all the materials to the contractors when you’re getting bids,” says Gisondi. “That way, you’ll get the right job on time with the right materials within budget. Poor planning is what makes renos run over budget.”
3. ‘Don’t try to live in the house when we’re doing a huge renovation’
“Homeowners think they’re saving money by trying to live in the property during a renovation, but they aren’t,” says Brownhill. “Having people trying to live around the construction adds a level of uncertainty and complexity that contractors would prefer not to have. The most efficient—and therefore, cost-effective—renos happen when homeowners are out of the house.”
4. ‘Man, I’m dying to get this job done’
Homeowners often assume contractors aren’t working all that hard, and that’s why projects end up taking longer—and going over budget. But that’s rarely the case.
“Contractors actually want the project to go really quickly,” says Brownhill. “They make more money the less time the project takes. There’s this notion that a contractor is going to drag out the project, but nobody wins in that scenario. Really great work can be done efficiently, if the materials are ordered at the right time and everything is planned correctly.”
5. ‘These delays aren’t my fault—they’re yours’
More often than not, in fact, delays might be due to you—and how you hadn’t selected all your components quickly enough so they’d arrive in time.
“If you spend the time to pick out all the selections for your job in advance, like your fixtures and appliances, tile, stone, and flooring, your project will get done twice as fast,” says Dan Bawden, contractor and remodelers chairman of the National Association of Homebuilders.
6. ‘Don’t rush me: I will finish your project as quickly as it can be done well’
“Give ample time for the project,” says Gisondi. “Don’t dive in trying to get it done in too short of deadline, or you’ll sacrifice quality.”
Because as much as you want this contractor out of your home and life, you also want a stellar renovation, right?