Top 10 ways to annoy your contractor

What not to do when working with a contractor

By Allan Britnell

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Hover continuously

With the high cost of many home renovations, it’s understandable that you want the job to be done well. But designating yourself site supervisor, then parking your butt in a chair to watch the crew work all day is a sure way to get on your contractor’s nerves.

“I know guys that can’t stand having someone watch them work,” says 35-year renovation veteran Lussier, although he claims that it’s never really bothered him personally. But he does have a warning for customers who want to watch him work. “I don’t mind, but don’t get in my way. I’m concentrating on what I’m doing, and if I happen to turn around with something in my hand…I may hit you.” Unintentionally, of course.

When having a home built from the ground up, you obviously won’t be able to be there continuously, so visits to check up on progress or make final decisions on finishing materials are expected. “But checking up on us every hour of every day is a little ridiculous,” says James Brohman, an independent contractor who has worked on high-end homes and cottages in Ontario for the past 15 years. Rather than simply guessing on what feels right to you, discuss with the contractor in advance about a reasonable number of, and timing for, site inspections.

Ask stupid questions

Contractors can sense when you’re trying to impress them with your knowledge of building practices. (The “I know what that is” comment, as Brohman describes it.) Generally speaking, they’re not all that impressed. A case in point comes from a long-ago summer job I had working with a friend installing windows and doors. One of my tasks was to insulate the gaps between the newly installed windows and their openings with polyurethane foam insulation, using a canister clearly labelled as such. Invariably, if there was a hovering homeowner (see above) onsite, he or she would eventually pop the question: “Is that foam?”

“Is that foam?” became a running joke between my friend and I for the remainder of the summer and, more than a decade later, it still induces a laugh when one of us mentions it.

But don’t just take my word for it. One of Brohman’s pet peeves is customers who try to undermine his skills or second-guess his judgement by asking too many questions: “Why’d you do this; why’d you do that?” While genuine curiosity may be admirable, being a nag is a nuisance.

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