• The Real GC

Avoid Baby Talk: How to Make Progress

We see so many post about how to hire a contractor and tips to remodel your home but it feels a little bit like the authors are treading on shaky ground and speaking to customers like children.

I know dozens of elite contractors who speak professionally when we meet at networking events but then take on a submissive, baby talk role while working with clients.

I would rather have a tough contractor in charge of my money and home than someone groveling over me for my approval as a homeowner.

What would I know about construction as a homeowner that the contractor would need my approval. We decided on the products and the process. They are the expert. Go do your job. Can you imagine a surgeon asking me how he should make the incision or how deep he should go for the infection? Yes, give me an overview and tell me what to expect and my part but lets get her done and done well.

Demo day for the second floor. It's loud, messy and dust is everywhere in the house.

The reality is, even if you hire an elite contractor, the job will be messy, take more time than you want, have problems (always), make you feel like you have no control (no matter how much they baby you) and eventually come to an end.

I do have some advice for you who can take it. Set up your expectations for the job during your interview session with the contractor. There is nothing better than clear requirements from the customer to a contractor. We may not take you on as a customer but at least we know in advance what you are looking for in us.

What are some examples of expectations for a job? I expect you to protect my home from damage. Cover the floors and tarp off non construction areas but tarp them so I can get into the rooms at night after you go. I expect you to be here for a meeting when you tell me you will be here or call and let me know the day before. I have a schedule to keep. Etc.

You will be billed accordingly but also have a better chance of keeping your sanity.

The easiest way to describe expectations is to think about what you will not put up with and then phrase it as "I expect." You do not need to be a jerk but simple straight forward sentences keep the path of communication clear. And you keep from building up fear and resentment during the job.

It is absolutely crazy to be upset at someone for not fulfilling a requirement you have on the invisible list in your head. We call these phantom rules.

At this point you can negotiate with the contractor to see if he or she will meet those expectations. (They will have expectations for you too!).

Negotiation means everyone is happy with the results. Give and take.

Be clear with your contractor on what you expect. They will be clear with you.

They do not need to agree to your expectations. They may walk, but it is better to have a clear working relationship than hold your tongue. It will eventually come out when you have a meltdown on the job site halfway through the project.

Your not a baby and do not need to be treated like one. If you don't like this style, call a friend or family member who is comfortable having these talks. Create a list of expectations in advance and let them talk for you. It doesn't hurt our feelings if you keep it professional. Just the facts mam'. Then we can go froward not trying to guess what your are upset about.

It is amazing how many contractors are soft-hearted and want to please their customers. Give them the information they need to do the job and you will have a great remodel.

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