How to Talk to a Contractor

Speaking with a contractor or subcontractor can be difficult, especially when your remodeling project is already in progressTalktoContractor. That’s because your house is likely torn apart, and the place you go for comfort is no longer a refuge. It will be a refuge after the remodel is done, and better than before, but it is not a place of peace during the actual work.

In fact, not only is your house not a place where you can go to get away from the troubles of life, but it often has become the source of troubles in your life. Think power saws, workers, boots, dirt, drills, dust, trucks, trash, and so on.
So what happens when we are in tense environments? We sometimes lose our graciousness and go into fear mode and we speak in anger. Unfortunately, this can bring about the opposite result we seek. Whereas we want contractors or subcontractors to change their behaviors, we get the opposite result when we speak to them in anger. We get workers who dread coming up the driveway, who will do anything not to show up and get yelled at some more. This is just human nature.
The little guide below could be helpful in moments of extreme stress. Being kind and using “I” statements will bring much better results than will speaking out in anger. Here are some ideas:

What you want

Wrong way

Better way

To hire an honest, ethical remodeling contractor.

Assume every contractor is a scoundrel and let them know how you feel.

Do vigorous research and call references to make sure the candidate has a long track record of ethical behavior.

To get a lower price than what the bid says.

Say: “What a rip-off. Are you a crook?”

Say: “How flexible are you with that price? How can we get that lower?”

To have the place left cleaner each night after the crews have gone.

Say: “This place is a filthy mess. What were you, born in a barn?”

Say: “I’m interested in having the place left cleaner each night. How can you help me with that?”

To get shoddy work done over and done better.

Say: “If you don’t fix this, I’ll sue.” (Note: This may become necessary, but not at the beginning of your negotiations.)

Say: “I’m concerned about the quality of this part of the job. How can this get done right?”

To have better communications with the contractor during the job.

Pout about non-returned calls and adapt an attitude of bitterness.

Say: “I feel uncomfortable with the lack of communication we are having. What would work better for you? Office phone? Cell phone? Emails? Texting? A message book at the house?”

2 Comments on How to Talk to a Contractor

  1. Joe Grimberg

    Great article. All of the above are important.
    As a CSLB licensed remodeling contractor in Los Angeles for over 20 years, I provide each client a written itemized outline schedule for all stages of your remodel, from the start to the completion. So you know exactly what to expect next. This helps in alleviating a lot of the stress associated with not knowing the steps of a remodel.

  2. Build Writewell

    Working with a quality contractor is very important. Planning the construction prior to the starting the work is also super important. A Zeeland Michigan contractor helps with the planning stages which needs to happen for the construction to happen exactly as desired.