How to Deal with Contractor Issues
For some people, the thought of hiring a contractor for a construction or home renovation project makes them want to run in the opposite direction. Either they have dealt with a bad contractor in the past or heard nightmarish stories from friends and family about contractors they have used. The truth is, most contractors are highly qualified professionals who want to deliver the best finished work product they can. And, with the help of customer reviews from online services such as Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor, and Takl, finding a contractor you can trust to do a good job is no longer hit or miss.
One way to avoid problems is to take steps to prevent them from happening in the first place by being proactive and doing your homework up front. When searching for a contractor, seek multiple estimates; meet with the contractor in person to get a feel for the person’s personality and manner of dealing with customers; make sure the contractor is licensed, bonded, and insured; check with the Better Business Bureau or state licensing agency that regulates contractors for complaints; check the contractor’s website and read online testimonials and reviews; and ask for recommendations from people you trust. Regardless, problematic contractors still exist, and homeowners across the U.S. struggle daily to deal with them.
For any home construction or renovation project, whatever the size, the customer should expect to receive a solid, well-detailed contract that outlines the full terms of the work to be performed. A contract should minimally include the following: list of all materials; labor costs; project timeline start to finish; clean-up – daily and at end of project; change orders (how requests are made and cost); how unexpected delays will be handled; method of notice/communication; fee schedule; warranties; and terms for abandonment, contract termination, dispute resolution. Depending on your project, you may request additional items be included.
Steps a Homeowner Can Take to Keep a Renovation Project on Track
To avoid miscommunication and missteps, communicate with your contractor in writing. Communications can be via email or text message. Likewise, your contractor should be providing you with regular updates, even photos, of progress made on a project. By having your communications in writing, you also have a paper trail to refer back to if a question arises. Of course you will also need to speak with your contractor on the phone, so make note of the calls, including date, time, and topic of discussion. You might consider following up a phone call with a confirmation email. In a perfect world, your renovation project will be completed on time and on budget. In the world of home renovations, that does not always happen. Weather can cause delays. A subcontractor on the job gets sick. Anticipated materials are on back order. Or, quite simply, mistakes get made or deadlines missed. How you and your contractor handle them is key to maintaining the contractor-client relationship on steady footing. Your contractor should be open and truthful when an issue arises. And you, as the paying customer, should inform the contractor at each step if something does not meet your expectations or align with a contractual item. It is wise to allow the contractor to fix the problem. Keeping the lines of communication open and setting new expectations are often all that is needed.
If, however, you continue to experience missed deadlines, or cost overruns, or poor workmanship, and if, after all your attempts at resolving a problem have failed and the contractor still has not met the terms of your written agreement or done anything to remedy matters, your only recourse may be to take the contractor to court or request dispute resolution. This step, of course, is an added expense and can leave you even more frustrated and angry. If your situation reaches this point, take pictures of the finished/unfinished product (if your complaint is shoddy workmanship) and gather all your documentation to prove your case. Additionally, you can file your own complaints and post negative reviews (Caveat: be careful about posting negative reviews; they may backfire if the contractor sues you for defamation or libel.)
DC Complete has years of experience and are familiar with all types of issues that can arise in the course of a project. We are very proactive at taking steps to ensure our clients’ complete satisfaction. We offer consultations to discuss our work and how our company operates. To talk with our team or learn more about our business, give us a call today at (810) 407-1771.