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Things to Keep in Mind While Hiring a Contractor

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Planning for home improvement project? Unless you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you’ve probably hired a contractor. Most likely, you’ve done your due diligence by getting multiple estimates and checking to see that the pro you’ve selected is licensed and insured. Maybe you’ve also tried to know about their past work experiences.

But even with all that legwork out of the way, there are still a few things you should keep in mind when hiring a contractor. Whether renovating a powder room or putting on an addition, the following are some universal truths homeowners often learn the hard way. Knowing these issues exist before your project gets underway can at least make them a bit more bearable.

1. Now you see ‘em …. now you don’t!
Although you might be laser focused on the end result (that brand new room!), don’t forget that unless you’re moving out, you’ll have to live through the process. While it’s exciting to see the transformation take place, it’s probably not going to happen without a few inconveniences.

One of the first things you may notice is that your contractor is a bit like a magician. Not only is this pro able to dazzle you with their skills, but they’re often pretty good at making themselves disappear when you least expect it, or for what seems like an eternity.

Don’t worry, it’s nothing you’ve done. This is a common practice. Often, contractors, who are juggling multiple jobs, get called away to another site. Other times, they’re simply forced to wait for materials for your project, inspectors to come and check the progress, or a subcontractor to arrive so they don’t show up. So, you may not see your contractor for a day or two (or three) at times.

Yes, it can be upsetting when you expect to see your contractor on the job day after day, but it’s all par for the course with a home improvement. So, just brace and prepare yourself for it to happen.

2. You’ll get a lot of “ballpark” estimates.
Between the costs, times, and timeframes, you’re likely to get a lot of rough estimates for the work you are having done.

You’ve most certainly heard friends or family complain about a project going over budget, and beyond the length of time they were told it would take. So, you probably already aware that it’s a possibility, but hopefully one you’ll avoid. Either way, those ballpark estimates won’t be totally news to you.

But, what might be a bit surprising to you is the ballpark estimates you get on actual time…

For instance, you may get a call or text letting you know a crew will be arriving at 8 a.m. the following morning. Consider this a rough estimate. That could mean you see your contractor at your door at the crack of dawn, or perhaps around noon.

Still much better than a disappearing act!

3. Your contractor is not a designer.
You may be desperate for another opinion on that paint color or light fixture, but remember most contractors aren’t interior designers. Of course, your contractor may have some good insight and advice. While your pro may weigh in, don’t rely on them to make decisions for you.

If you’re going to need a lot of hand-holding through this process, or help choosing the look and feel of every little thing, it’s best to hire a designer at the outset to help bring your vision to life and keep the project moving along.

4. You’ll have a like-dislike relationship by the end of the job.
Much like when you’re expecting friends and family to visit for an extended period, your initial excitement fades as their stay drags on, and before you know it, you can’t wait for them to leave.

The same holds true for your contractor. You’ll certainly be excited for them to get there. You may even like and enjoy them during the process. But, as your project nears completion, even if you love your contractor, you’ll find yourself frequently fantasizing about having your home all to yourself again.

Hopefully any renovation project you hire a contractor for will go as smoothly as possible. And, hopefully, knowing these four finer points will help you keep your perspective and expectations in check. Because, just knowing what to expect can help to make it feel smooth, knowing that it’s common and not just you who goes through it.

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