Articles like this often focus on how to find a great contractor or the dos and don’ts of a certain project, but we’ve learned over the years that it’s equally important for clients to enter a project with the right mindset. Why? Because projects inevitably seem to go more smoothly for “good” customers. Materials arrive as scheduled and are the correct size, color and quantity. Subcontractors are eager to show up and strive to do exceptional work. Work gets completed on time and on budget. But what exactly makes a good remodeling or new construction customer? Here are some traits that good customers inevitably share:
- They don’t select a contractor based on price alone. A good customer appreciates that good contractors are professionals and that ultimately, you get what you pay for when it comes to quality and expertise.
- Mutual respect. After having gone through the proper process to select a contractor, they honor that professional’s ability, experience and time just as they expect their contractor to respect their time and business.
- Trust and openness about the project’s scope and budget. Being upfront and honest about your budget will save you money, time and heartache. (Read our Honesty is the Best Policy article to learn why). A Professional Contractor understands that a number of factors and material selections can dramatically impact a project’s cost and will work with you to meet your desired budget, if it is realistic. Remember that in addition to what you see being accomplished on the jobsite, there is lots of hands-on activity occurring behind the scenes; materials are being selected and ordered, follow through and follow-up contact with vendors and product deliveries are being coordinated, and timelines with tradesmen are being planned and scheduled.
- Hand in hand with that honesty goes open-mindedness. Being open to learning about new ideas and being realistic about scope, materials and costs are key to a smooth project.
- They exhibit a solid understanding of the process. No one expects a homeowner to be a construction expert; it’s actually the responsibility of your contractor to establish a clear understanding of your project’s procedures, phases and timetable. (We at Palmer Custom Builders, for example, provide clients with a detailed Renovation and New Construction Guide.) Yet good customers strive to grasp the process and be aware of what needs to happen, when.
- A willingness to do their part to make the project successful. It takes a high level of desire and commitment to obtain a successful outcome, particularly when you are living in a renovation zone.
- The ability to be decisive once presented with the facts. When it comes to selecting materials or making a critical decision, the ability to act quickly will keep a project on track.
- Asks questions. If you don’t understand something, just ask. A true professional should never have an issue with explaining the reason for something. Keeping concerns to yourself only hinders communication and can build resentment.
- Flexibility. A remodeling or new construction project is a complicated, technical undertaking involving many details and phases both on the jobsite and behind the scenes. The one constant in these projects is change. Some phases will progress faster than planned while unforeseen issues inevitably will appear during the course of a project. Common causes of delays, like scheduling County building inspections, can be nerve-wracking for homeowners and contractors, but if you keep your mind on the ultimate goal and realize that some time shift is normal, you won’t get bogged down in minutia and lose sight of the big picture.
- Finally – likeability. Both you and your contractor should like each other and be able to work together for several months. If that relationship isn’t founded on trust and respect, the process won’t go as smoothly as you would like.
Of course, no matter how wonderful you are to work with, it can all be for naught if you are not working with a licensed, professional contractor. So make certain that the team you choose is made up of professionals who are qualified to work on a project of your scope.
The ultimate payoff of being a good customer is having a great experience. You’ll feel good about the project; it will become exciting and fun instead of stressful; and everyone involved will be proud of and happy about the job – which means your results will be spectacular.