Everything But the Kitchen Sink: What Goes, What Stays.
Need to hire a contractor for a home modeling or a repair job? Make sure you put it in writing! There was a time when contractors and customers sealed deals with a handshake, and a person's word was their bond.
Unfortunately, that approach in today's business world isn't advisable. Even when contractors and customers work in good faith with one another, it's far too easy for misunderstandings to occur. One may say one thing while the other hears something completely different.
And then there's the outright intent to defraud customers that can come into play. I've heard and read too many stories of contractors taking advantage of trusting and naive customers.
Indeed! Verbal contracts and gentlemen's agreements can be problematic. Therefore, best practices and common sense implore all deals to be in writing and signed by both parties. Without one, if any defaults are declared, like work unfinished, work done poorly, or not at all, it becomes a situation of "he said/she said" that may end up in a court of law for resolution.
As a customer, you can visualize what you want. But contractors aren't mindreaders and need help understanding your vision to deliver what you expect. Therefore, besides being beneficial, it's advisable to write a list of the work you want to be done - including what items will stay, which will go, who will be responsible for hauling away the debris, and the like.
So, before entering into any home improvement or repair work agreement, customers should scope the work in writing and write a detailed list of specifications. And they should complete these two things in documented detail before speaking with a contractor. Doing so will help the contractor better understand the work desired and price the work accordingly.
As the customer approaches the contractor with these recorded details, it will be easier to convey what they want, need, and expect. It will also be a productive way to begin conversations so the contractor can quickly grasp, visualize, and understand the customer's desires.
Understandably, contractors may have comments or questions as they look over proposals. Consequently, the terms, conditions, and procedures may need to be negotiated before the contract is complete and ready for both parties to sign.
Remember that there are few free estimates or any free labor. Many companies or independent contractors may advertise free estimates or free delivery to attract business. However, it's a common practice to work the cost of related fees into the project's cost. This way, the customer is none the wiser.
Each time a home improvement project or a home repair project is under contract, most customers end up paying a portion of the overhead of the company or person doing the work. That overhead involves everything from the contractor's time looking at other possible projects in the house to preparing the actual estimate.
Most contractors add some additional amount to cover unexpected contingencies if and when they occur. So, the better organized and knowledgeable the customer is about the project, the less likely it will be for those contingencies to come up.
Customers should refrain from asking the contractor about the hidden fees or contingencies that are figured into the total cost of the contract. This isn't something that a customer can ask the contractor directly and expect an honest response. Still, the customer may save a fair amount of money while completing home improvement or repair projects by spending a little time on it in advance.