We asked our experts what homeowners can do to ensure a smooth working relationship when hiring a professional. They all agreed on the key ingredients: open communication, transparency, and mutual trust.
A happier professional can mean extra perks and even a better end project. In an I’ll-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine world, the relationship is key to a successful remodel. Ensure your project runs smoothly with our insider’s guide to the Do’s and Don’t’s of working with a home professional.
DO be very clear and concise at the beginning of the transaction about what you want done and your expectations. Communication is key to saving time and money.
DO be involved and responsive, but DON’T be overbearing. Let the professional do their work without being micromanaged.
DO be courteous, respectful, and hospitable.
DOtake photos and document everything before, during, and after the project. Most professionals do this for insurance purposes. Homeowners should, too, for both insurance reasons and making future projects easier. Make sure to include descriptions with all photos.
DO your research. It gives professionals the opportunity to enhance the information you already have.
DO ask the right questions; an informed homeowner is a happy homeowner. This is where research can be helpful, so you don’t waste time asking simple questions that could have been answered with a quick online search.
DO provide as much information as possible. Any information is helpful in the process, even if it seems irrelevant. This includes any known problem areas in your home.
“I don’t think it’s enough to discuss ‘what’ needs to be done. The ‘how’ and ‘why’ are also important.”
– Stuart Deutsch, Toolguyd
DO be honest about your budget.
DO treat vendors like professionals. DON’T treat them like laborers. Avoid phrases like, “I could do it myself.”
DON’T be a flake. Do what you say you are going to do and respect deadlines, schedules, and follow-ups.
DO have ideas and desires. DON’T let them be written in stone. Professionals can help create your dream space by opening your eyes to new ideas based off your wishes. They always appreciate homeowners who give specific examples of what they want, whether it be via pictures, clippings, or detailed descriptions.
DO be open-minded and flexible. DON’T be a pushover. There is a fine line between changing your original ideas for the better and feeling forced to go in a direction you don’t like. If you are feeling like the latter, chances are you won’t be completely happy with the project.
DON’T complain about every detail. There will be unforeseen obstacles during any project, so bring up issues that really matter, rather than petty gripes.
That being said…
DO speak up. If you really don’t like something, say it. Professionals are there to create your dream space and are looking for your repeat business and referrals. It is in their best interests to make sure you walk away with an overall great experience, but they can’t work toward that if they don’t know you are unhappy.
“Homeowners should be completely honest and honestly complete.”
-Eric Bramlett, realtor
DO have all selections completed and ordered BEFORE the job begins as to reduce the risk of hidden costs.
DO complete any projects you can before the professional begins his/her work to save time and money. This is particularly true for cleaning, removing clutter, and keeping valuables, children, and pets out of the way.
“Please secure your pets. In my experience, the unfriendly pets are not the only ones to watch out for. Overly-friendly or untrained pets are just as distracting”
-Ed the Plumber, Kohler
DO make decisions in a timely manner. The longer you wait to make a decision, the more it delays the project. When working with professionals, time is money, so be conscientious of their time and your wallet.
DO be organized. Nothing is worse than a professional that has to keep sending documents that were “lost.”
DO make all payments on time. This may sound like professionals are just looking to get their money, but paying your bills allows him/her to pay bills on time and keep credit lines open. Without good credit, professionals can’t purchase the equipment needed for projects, which could hurt you in the end.
DON’T expect free service and advice. This is the professional’s livelihood, so trying to milk free consultations, evaluations, or work is disrespectful and puts them in an awkward situation.
DO be consistent. For example, if you want to be heavily involved, do so throughout the whole project. It is difficult to keep up with a homeowner whose behavior constantly changes.
DO be optimistic. It sets the tone for the duration of the relationship.
DO get everything in writing. It will give a reason to discuss the nitty-gritty of the project and ensure everyone is on the same page.