Top 10 ways to annoy your contractor

What not to do when working with a contractor

By Allan Britnell

No comments

Fly off the handle

Contractors usually build in some wiggle room when setting timelines to prevent customers screaming at them because that snowstorm pushed back the cottage opening by a few weeks. It doesn’t always work. And on larger jobs, miscommunications and misunderstandings between the owner and the tradesmen are almost inevitable. What doesn’t have to be is “creating a huge drama out of it. Everything is fixable,” Brohman says. “All they have to do is say, ‘You missed this. Let’s fix it.’”

Keep them to yourself

Good contractors have become somewhat akin to buried treasure: they’re hard to find and, when you do discover one, you want to keep him all to yourself. But a lot of a contractor’s business comes through word of mouth. Smaller contractors in particular-who don’t have the time or budget for big advertising campaigns-rely on referrals for much of their work.

“A lot of customers seem to think they’re your only customer, that I can pay all my bills just with their jobs,” Paul says. “Some of my customers have actually said to me, ‘I’m not going to refer you to anybody because then I’ll never be able to get you back to my house.’”

On the contrary, contractors appreciate the extra business and may even be a little quicker to return your call next time you’re in the market for some work around the house.

I happily referred a contractor who’d done a couple of jobs around our house to friends. He was so appreciative that one day he arrived unannounced at our front door with a bottle of wine and some veggies picked fresh from his garden.

In case you’re wondering, I’d be happy to pass along his name. But, unfortunately for all of us, he’s retired.

Safe contracting

One way to keep you (and your contractor) happy is to work together to write your contract, which defines the entire construction job, to make sure there are no surprises along the way. A good contract will keep you safe from any scams, and although not all contractors are untrustworthy, it is best to err on the side of caution. The first thing you should do is read up on your rights regarding construction and renovation contracts in your province. You can also have a lawyer go over your contract before you sign.

Homeowner and veteran renovator Hedi Erenrich advises potential renovators that “you have to do your research in terms of the contractor. Look at previous work, and be sure to get references.” She also urges you to not make any assumptions: be sure that your contractor has the abilities needed to complete your specific job. In terms of the contract, Erenrich wants to see that the contractor is “licensed, responsible for subcontractors’ work and has the appropriate insurance.”

Contractor Ewan Graham of E.F. Graham Builders in Toronto says the item in a contract that should set off alarm bells immediately is an overly large deposit. He also says timelines are important in a contract. “The contract should state the parameters of the job [and the] completion date.”

Erenrich agrees, saying that there should be a “correlation between payment schedule and each task completed.”

Graham adds that the contract should deal with “how extras and changes are handled.” Also, the owner and contractor should always sign off on changes to the contract.

A few other details that Graham likes to see in a contract include simplicity, the hours of work and the presence of the contractor or a supervisor. Although Graham admits that there is a leap of faith involved for both the owner and contractor, making a contract is important for setting out the expectations of each side before a job begins.

For Erenrich, it all boils down to the relationship between contractor and homeowner. “Make sure you can have a working relationship: it’s as important as anything on paper.” -Andrew Gordon

No comments

To leave a comment, please log in

Don't have an user account? Register for free


How do you heat your home?

Loading ... Loading ...