The 7 Best Ways To Get The Best Work Out Of Contractors.
“These Are The Things That I Learned To Become A Successful Renovator”
By Van Sturgeon
Real Estate Investor
I’ve been in the real estate investment for over 30 years, and I have created successful companies that provide construction and renovation services to residential and commercial properties. From my experience, here are the 7 best ways to ensure that you get the best work and value out of your contractors.
When you start in a new relationship with a contractor, it is important that you have established lines of communication with one another. It is important to clearly identify how each party is going to communicate with one another, whether it is through email, phone or an actual physical meeting. You should establish a regular schedule, as it is important for all parties to stay informed on the progress of the renovation.
In those meetings, this is an opportunity for you to hear about the progress of the renovation, and find out the type of work is scheduled over the coming days. This is your opportunity to ask your questions, and voice any concerns that you have about the renovation.
2. Progress Journal
There are some municipalities that require it, and even if they don’t, it is a good practice to keep an accurate and up to date progress journal through the whole renovation process. The reason why some municipalities require you to have a progress journal, is because you are acting as the general contractor, and are in charge of managing the renovation. If there are any issues with the renovation or if someone gets hurt on the project site, the municipality would want to know the progress of the project and who worked on the renovation.
Besides the possible legal requirement, it is good to keep a progress journal because it allows you to write down and ask certain questions that you may have, or write down an idea that may have popped into your head. It is the place to keep certain specific information about the renovation, such as the product model numbers or when a delivery is supposed to arrive.
3. List All Of The Details
There are so many times where I scratch my head and wonder about how some real estate investors are able to fall into such an obvious trap. The “trap” comes in the form of an allowance that contractors will use, in lieu of detailed information that you haven’t provided yet as part of the selection process of a contractor. Because you haven’t provided the specific details about a product or service, a contractor will arbitrarily place a number in its place and use that to form their bid when they present it to you for your consideration. How do you know if the number they used is accurate? Is there enough money to cover your product and/or service that you need for your renovation?
Don’t make this mistake in your renovation. Plan it all out and identify all of the materials and services that you want completed in the renovation. When you have compiled the whole list, then you tender out the project to all of the contractors and you know that they are quoting the same work. When you received all of the quotes from contractors, you know that you are comparing “apples” to “apples” in the price that you have received.
4. Stay On Top Of The Work
As you are acting as the general contractor, it is your responsibility to ensure that the work is completed to your satisfaction. Often, new real estate investors are afraid of offending the contractors, or don’t show up enough on the project site to ensure that the work is completed properly. When they get around to it, these investors will discover that it’s too late for any changes or alterations to the work completed, and they will have to learn to live with the end result.
You need to check everything from the paint color that is being applied to which wall, to making sure that the appliances that arrived are the correct model number and are the ones that you had specified for your project. Make sure that the toilets flush and that the trim work is level. This is all part of your job as the acting general contractor.
5. Write Any Changes
As you progress through a renovation, you might encounter a need for a revision to the plans associated with the work. As an example, you may have identified new hardwood floors throughout the first floor, and once you have pulled the carpet, you realize that the floor underneath has hardwood flooring and you can salvage it. This happens to be a good problem to have, as this new found “discovery” will have saved you thousands of dollars in new flooring that you will be able to avoid.
Most times, though, we aren’t so lucky in our renovations and the revisions that are needed are related to issues discovered through the course of the renovation. For example, you discover a lack of insulation in the walls or an infestation of termites that caused damage to part of the house. These are issues that will require additional money or “extras” that will go to a contractor to remedy the problem. It is important that you detail in writing all of the additional work that a contractor will perform and have them sign off on this extra work.
If you don’t detail the work and the amount that it will cost in writing, you are exposing yourself to additional charges. Things can get misunderstood and the contractor will go ahead and complete more work than you deem that is required. Once the extra is completed, the contractor will want to get paid for it. Without anything in writing, you will be forced to pay the additional money.
6. Payment Schedule
So many times, I hear of contractors who run off with deposit money or never return to complete work that they have started. Often, the reason why these contractors disappear is because there was too much money given for the amount of work that they had performed already. It is very important to make sure that you never extend too much money past what is reasonable for the amount of work performed.
Contractors will always push for more money, and will give you every claim in the world about why you should give them more money. It is up to you to stay strong and abide by a payment schedule that you have created, prior to any work provided by a contractor. This payment schedule protects you from over paying a contractor, and provides an incentive to a contractor to quickly complete their work so that they can get paid. Create a payment schedule that is in your favor and that is accepted by the contractor. Once you’ve got that, stick with it and don’t deviate.
7. Pay On Time
Being a contractor is not easy. Their life is pretty tough. When you find a good contractor, treat them well. Always be respectful and pay on time. There is nothing that creates more turmoil and hard feelings than not paying someone on time.
Speaking from experience, I have found that the longer that you delay, the more potential for problems to your renovation. I have seen contractors do some real damage to properties on purpose, because they weren’t paid.
It’s not worth the hassle. Ensure that you have the amount of money available to pay all of your contractors on time.
For more information on house renovations and real estate investing, visit www.vansturgeon.com to help you in your real estate investment journey.