May 14, 2015 Cindy Beyer

Tips you need to know while working with a contractor

I have had the pleasure of working with many contractors big or small whether they are kitchen, basement, bath or just plain painting contractors. It is my job to work closely with the contractor to make sure they give you the best possible outcome. Each contractor is different and can bring to the table many different aspects of the job. The following are some tips to consider in your choice.

Project management:
Whether it is a large or smaller contractor, it is important to have good communication between your project manager, the design professional and you. For many years I have used one contractor who was my main contact. It was easy to communicate what the client wanted and easy to execute the changes. The change order was usually a verbal communication. Most small contractors do not have the time for excessive written change orders. If you do use a small contractor, please make sure you know each and every charge associated with each change order. You do not want to be surprised at the end of the job, however fantastic it is.

On the other hand, larger contractors have the luxury of employing a contract estimator who, if using a good software can quickly estimate the cost of your changes. If you are a detailed oriented person, this can be a blessing. If you are not, it can be your worst enemy. Every change is detailed which can derail a perceived good relationship. As a designer, it is my job to work closely with each party so be sure you get the most perfect fit between contractor and you.

Each contractor has their own billing methods. Some bill a third down with starting the project, some have more. Most times the contract is between the paying party and the receiving party so the designer never handles the money, which is a plus for us designers. I believe a third down with the contract is fair with a payment after the rough-ins, cabinet installs and after the final payment. I advise all clients to hold back the final payment until you are completely satisfied.

In all of my jobs, we have the highest expectations. Sometimes these are not communicated between the parties and one or the other feels they have to take on a more hands-on role. After many years in the building design experience, it is important to have written expectations, even if they seem trivial. This will make thing easier in the end. I guarantee that 99% of the projects have overrides unforeseen to both parties. The best thing is to know what you are getting into which is not always easy for even the most fastidious client.

If you would like more insight into the hiring of a contractor, please contact me at

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