How to tell if your contractor doing it right

Here are some tips to stay on top of any project without sacrificing a good relationship with your contractor and their team.




Even with a licensed and insured general contractor, most property owners want a way to tell if the contractor is doing the job they paid them to do. After you vet out and hire a contractor, what strategies can you use to conduct a contractor evaluation? Follow these tips to stay on top of the project without sacrificing a good relationship with your contractor and their team.


1. Establish Good Communication

Establish a communication pattern that doesn't interfere with the workflow. Here are some suggestions to discuss with your contractor:

    • Talk to your contractor before work begins every day or every few days.

    • Get the OK to call or text the contractor with questions and establish a reasonable response time.

    • Talk to the job foreman at a mutually agreeable time.

It may seem like overkill, but it's important to check in on project progress every day to avoid expensive do-overs. This gives you the chance to voice your concerns as well.


2. Keep a Project Journal

Use a construction project journal to track progress. This can be as fancy or simple as you prefer. A spiral-bound notebook lets you rip out pages and make free form notes. The journal helps with the following tasks:

    • Record progress.

    • Write down questions for your contractor.

    • Work out new ideas and change requests in detail.

    • Record materials and costs.

    • Keep track of milestones and material deliveries.

As part of the project journal, you can track the materials ordered. For example, if your project involves concrete pours, ask what test materials, like those from Certified MTP, the contractor uses to test the strength and flexion of the concrete.


3. Check the Work in Writing

Unexpected issues can increase the scope of the project. Make sure that you get separate estimates for labor and materials that you can add to your records. This should include any new permits needed as a result of the change.

    • Compare the model numbers on fixtures and appliances against the invoices to make sure you get what you pay for.

    • Check the location of doors, flooring and windows against the blueprints.

    • Document poor work, such as loose flooring or crooked trim that workers need to address.


4. Pay Only for Completed Work

Include a payment schedule in your contract and put no more than 10% upfront. If necessary, order expensive materials yourself based on a detailed list from the contractor. Ask the contractor if they have a financial checklist that ensures all charges have been paid and invoices are closed out. Remember, your contractor works for you and should be flexible enough to work by your rules.


5. Be a Good Customer

Make prompts decisions and pay the invoices on time. Also, a little respect goes a long way. Simple things that help include:

    • Designating a bathroom for construction workers

    • Take the time to learn their names

    • Provide cold drinks and the occasional pizza for lunch

    • Compliment good work

With a little effort, your contractor evaluation can result in the successful completion of your project. Be firm and respectful and do your part to create a positive environment and make your wishes clear.



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