If problems arise during a home renovation, use these methods to get results from your contractor.
You’ve planned and designed. You’ve scrimped and saved. You’re finally getting the new kitchen floor or the remodeled sun porch or the finished basement you’ve dreamt of for years! But now there’s a problem. Maybe the contractor delivered the wrong colored tile. The windows for the porch are definitely not the right size. Or, maybe the contractor’s crew left the basement full of trash. Whatever went wrong, you want it fixed — and fast. Use this guide to get the best results from your contractor and get your project back on track.
1. Speak up early with your contractor As soon as you notice the problem, you should say something. Do not wait until the job is complete to bring up issues. Nothing is worse, from a contractor’s point of view, than sending your customer an invoice only to receive a list of problems in return. If you think the technicians are installing tile in the wrong direction, ask them about it. A problem will only become bigger and more expensive to fix at the end of the project. Ask your technician to stop and make a phone call to your sales person right then.
2. Take photos of the remodeling project’s problems A lack of photographic evidence for a complaint makes for an uphill battle. Plus, having photos removes the element of the unknown. When you share photos with your contractor — and often you can do this immediately through text messages — he or she can respond more directly and quickly to issues. You’re also not left trying to describe the errors and their severity over the phone. I recently had a customer call about too much wood flooring stain on her door jambs. She felt the marks were more than I had asked her to anticipate. I told her I would happily take a look, but her painter had just painted over it. Sadly, she didn’t take any photos of a problem that was already remedied. While we did come to an agreeable outcome, it is a much easier road when both parties are able to see the trouble. As an added bonus, your contractor can use your photos to promptly address issues internally with the technicians or externally with a product manufacturer. All around, it is a great help to have photos.
3. Put the home improvement problems in writing The best way for most contractors to address your concerns is when you lay them all out in writing. Emails, or even text messages, allow you to timestamp the complaint, and they give your contractor a list of issues to address. Also, adding those previously mentioned photos gives you an easy way to reference problems and generate solutions. If things happen too quickly and you end up with a phone call to deal with an issue (see step 1), then be sure to follow up with an email for everyone’s records. Unfortunately, there are times when problems can’t be resolved and a homeowner will end up in court with a contractor. Those emails can help clarify the story, taking it from a he said, she said situation to a documented series of events.
These steps will help pave the way for the best outcome if trouble arises during your construction project. But it’s also important to keep a cool head and remember the contractor and crew are human, too. Mistakes happen. Transposed product numbers, chipped paint and even broken garage doors can be remedied. Believe me — we’ve seen it all! Do your part by addressing problems quickly, taking photos and putting it in writing. These steps will set you up for an understanding contractor who’s ready to get your project back on track.