Home & Garden

Ask Angie’s List: How should I work with my contractor?

Remodeling and other contracting jobs can be stressful, expensive and time-consuming. But when you work with a contractor, you're establishing a temporary but crucial interaction in your life. A contractor may spend days, weeks or even months in your home. The relationship you build with them will help determine the success of your project. Here are five tips to build the best bond with your pro.


TV shows, websites, magazines and Pinterest boards offer a wide array of content and aspirational ideas to help launch your home projects. But never forget that media can be edited and curated. Hours or days of effort can disappear behind a single scene cut. So don't let mass media give you the wrong impression about the remodeling process. When you talk to a pro, make sure you have a realistic idea in mind of how things work – and trust their judgment.


The least expensive change to make to your project is the one you make before a single nail has been hammered. The clearer your idea of the scope and direction of your project, the more easily you'll head off delays or extra costs. Every project changes over time, but a clear plan and understanding of what you're doing will work wonders for the final product.


One of the biggest ways you can help a remodeler is by providing a dedicated space for them to keep their tools and materials. This helps keep the project running smoothly. Plus, you'll save them time required to set up and remove equipment. Not only does this get the job done faster, it translates directly into dollars saved on your cost.


Remodeling requires a steady flow of logistics, supplies and workers. If you don't make timely decisions on questions with hard deadlines, you can cause delays – not only on your own job, but those of other homeowners as well. You expect your contractor to hit their deadlines, so respect their time by doing the same in return. Ultimately, you're responsible for keeping your project on schedule.


There's nothing wrong with being a hands-on client – in fact, an engaged homeowner can lead to the best outcome. But be careful how you interact with the job site itself. You can distract workers and prolong their process. And if you have an issue with how individual workers are doing their jobs, it's best to take it up with the supervisor or general contractor rather than try to intervene yourself. Micromanaging tends to create more problems than it solves. Make an effort to stay involved without being obtrusive. For instance, by requesting regular walkthroughs and status updates, you'll stay engaged without disrupting work.

Paul F. P. Pogue is a reporter for Angie's List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit AngiesList.com.