Renovating your home can be a stressful project even under the best of circumstances. Every decision you make seems important, especially knowing how it can add to or detract from your home’s value.
When you find yourself in conflict with the contractor — the person hired to keep your renovations moving along — the whole process can become a nightmare. As a homeowner, you must protect your interests and the investment you’ve made in your home.
Here are five tips on how to handle frustration with your contractor, or ways to avoid it, to keep your home renovation on track.
Having a contract can be one of your best assets when working with a contractor. At every step of your home buying, owning, and selling process, it’s important to have a contract specifically stating your expectations.
Has the contractor told you the project will take longer to complete than expected? Check your contract to find out if there are any penalties they may face for failing to finish on time. You may be able to receive a discount or partial refund on the overall project. While it may not speed up the timeline, the financial compensation will hopefully offset any convenience or expenses you run into because of the delay.
If you need assistance creating a contract, you might consider contacting the real estate agent who helped you buy your house or someone from the office. If you’re starting from square one, you can still hire a real estate agent to assist with contracts and make sure you’re covering all your bases.
In addition to having a written contract, you may want to keep most — if not all — of your communication with a contractor in writing. You can state this upfront or make the change during the process, but be sure to state this desire specifically.
Having everything in writing comes with a couple of benefits. First, it creates a paper trail that you can reference in the future should additional issues come up. Second, writing a message gives you the benefit of carefully thinking about what you want to say while stating your expectations.
Keep your messages straightforward and as unemotional as possible. While it’s okay to be firm in your written messages, avoid letting any anger get the best of you.
While unfortunate, you may discover that you and your contractor do not communicate effectively. This will be frustrating for both of you, as they want to finish the job and you want the job done. In a situation like this, it may help to find out if there is someone else on your contractor’s team who you can serve as your point of communication.
For example, the contractor may choose to refer you to the subcontractors for a specific part of the process. They, in turn, can pass your wishes up the chain. Likewise, you can speak with someone in the contractor’s office.
In this day and age, it may be tempting to share your negative experience online in the form of social media posts or a negative review on their website or Yelp page. Avoid doing this while your project is in progress because it may negatively impact the outcome.
Once the project is finished, you are free to leave a fair review. Try to keep it as balanced as possible. Avoid making any personal or threatening remarks that could come back to hurt you in the future.
It’s natural to get upset when you find yourself in conflict with anyone but before you say or do something that might strain an already tense relationship with your contractor, pause and take a few deep breaths.
Put some distance, either physically or mentally, from the problem and give yourself time to think. As you do, keep in mind your overall objectives and desired outcomes. Consider possible solutions ranging from extremes, such as finding a real estate agent and listing your house, to the more mundane: giving it a day and talking to your contractor in the morning. Whatever you decide, you’ll be glad you took the time to consider it before acting.
And if you do decide it’s time to sell your house, be sure to find a selling agent who will have your back and get you the best deal possible to make lemonade out of this lemon.