Dos & Donts of Working with a Contractor

Home improvement is a big investment, learning how to make the most of your contractor relationships can save you time, money and sanity.

It’s been said there are only two things you can count on in life, death and taxes. We’d like to make a case for adding a third item to life’s list of unavoidable experiences – working with contractors.

It’s a safe bet at some point in your life, you will find yourself faced with needing the services of a professional contractor. Whether for something relatively simple and straightforward, such as replacing the old plumbing pipes that plague so many Central Florida homes- or for something complicated and extensive, like building a new warehouse for your expanding Brevard County business.

Whatever your reason for picking up the phone to hire a trade professional, knowing a few tried and true tips for working with contractors keep keep the sailing smooth, and prevent you from making common, avoidable mistakes.

The team at L.H. Tanner has been in the business of Building Value That Lasts for more than three decades. When it comes to making the most out of your contractor relationships, we’ve got your back. Here are a handful of helpful contractor tips to keep in mind before getting started, straight from our team of construction professionals.

1) DON’T change your mind too much.

Making major renovations to a space or building one from scratch can be an exciting experience. There are so many stylish options for creative customization, it can be easy to become overwhelmed with choices, even with something as simple as paint. Changing your mind about things once or twice pre-process is understandable, but once the project is in motion, each new change can mean starting over for your team. Making too many changes does more than just add to the overall cost of the project, it slows things down (way down) and drives your contractor team nuts. If you want to stay on budget, on schedule and sane, for the love of all that is holy, make up your mind and stick to your guns.  

 2) DO be up front about the best method of communication with your team.

Maybe you hate voicemail. Maybe you don’t do text messaging after 8 p.m. Maybe you’re a hermit who prefers to use a quill and ink to write letters that you send via pony express. That’s cool. Whatever floats your boat, man. When it comes to staying in touch with your contractor team, however, tell them about your communication preferences up front. This takes the guesswork out of things, and makes it easy for you to reach each other quickly and efficiently. What is true of marriage is also true of contractor relationships – open communication is key.

3) DON’T take on a big project while going through a major life change.

Though you might be tempted to completely renovate your kitchen or build a big man cave after a tough breakup, resist the urge. Big life transitions, such as becoming parents for the first time, moving past a death or going through a divorce – can sometimes inspire us to make large-scale changes to our surroundings as part of the “new beginning” process. The problem with this is, the emotional toll of taking on a major construction or renovation project can be pretty intense. Compounding that with the fresh pain of losing a loved one or the sleepless stupor of new parenthood can be a recipe for disaster. Our advice for those facing a major life change: give it a year of adjustment time before starting a big project. One source of mega stress is enough.

4) DO share your inspiration and vision.

Have you been bookmarking bathroom before and afters on for the last year? Do you have a Pinterest board overflowing with ideas for your new office building, or maybe even just a cocktail napkin sketch of the porch paradise you’re hoping to build? Whatever you’ve been using as a creative planning tool or source of inspiration, your contractor wants to see it. Your vision is an important part of the plan-build process, and becomes a valuable resource for the design team.

5) DO bring treats.

Construction is hard work, and your contractor team is human. They love a cold beer or a warm cookie after a strenuous day on the job, just like you do. While it’s certainly not necessary to show up with enough booze to get everybody buzzed or a gift basket of T-bone steaks, it’s nice to treat your team to something tasty and refreshing from time to time. The resulting boost to morale improves the vibe on the project long after the brownies have been devoured.


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