Choosing the right contractor undoubtedly makes all the difference in construction and renovation projects — their skillset and insights bring your project to life. But if you aim to make the most of their services, it is essential to provide your contractor with the right guidance and support.
That’s where effective communication kicks in. In fact, the success of your project largely depends on this deceptively simple aspect of the project.
But how can you ensure you are effectively communicating with your contractor to achieve the best results? Below, we’ve listed our top 6 tips for communicating with your contractor!
Communicate Well (And Ask The Right Questions) Before Hiring
Communication begins long before you even hire your contractor. Once you have a preferred set of contractors shortlisted, reach out to their references (former clients) and learn about their experience with the contractor. You may want to ask about their overall experience and satisfaction with the result, whether the decided timeline was met, how the contractor reacted to feedback, and more.
Once you’ve identified your lead option, be sure to ask them the right questions before hiring. These include:
Do they have a license for their work?
Will they hire subcontractors for the job?
What kind of warranty do they offer?
What is their timeline and payment schedule?
If their answers don’t satisfy you, you may consider interviewing other contractors from your list.
Decide The Mode Of Communication
Be sure to decide on the mode(s) of communication beforehand. There are several methods, out of which a blend of the following three will work well:
Emails: Written communication, such as a thread of emails, is effective in keeping track of what you and your contractor agreed on throughout the process. This also protects you if there’s any disagreement, providing written proof of the aspects you simultaneously agreed on. However, you may need to wait to get a response.
Calls or Texts: Contractors are usually occupied by work on-site. The fastest way to get their attention — and your queries instantly answered — is through calls or texts.
Standup Meetings: Quick, on-site meetings are crucial to staying updated with the progress of your project — more on that below.
Schedule Time For Regular Updates On The Project
Set a specific time to get updates on your project. This ensures satisfaction on your end while not constantly pulling your contractor away from the job site. Simultaneously, the accountability keeps your contractor on track and motivates them to hit milestones in a timely manner for regular updates.
You can schedule this in daily standup meetings (generally short, spanning five to fifteen minutes). Alternatively, you can opt for more detailed meetings on the progress of the project, weekly. Choosing to have meetings twice a week, say, every Tuesday and Friday, is also a good approach.
Be Clear And Concise
Your project is important to both you and your contractor, but being long-winded isn’t essential in getting your point across. Don’t overelaborate and only stick to the facts. The aim is to be as detailed as possible, using as few words as necessary! For example, when sharing the budget, be clear on how much you’re setting aside for the project instead of making them go through long-winded guesswork.
Pro tip: Communicate the most important points through multiple modes (while staying brief) and through multiple means of communication. For example, highlight them during a meeting followed by reinforcing them via email.
Beyond that, you also need to use the right terminology and way of explaining things. For example, “allowance” refers to the amount of money you set aside for items you may need but have not yet chosen, and “specifications” refers to a detailed list of materials and work required to complete the project.
If you’re struggling to put your vision in words and lack the right vocabulary to use in your communication, consider consulting a Cost & Construction Guru. They will spend enough time understanding your vision and help you find the right words, terminologies, and questions to use for effective communication with your contractor.
Keep In Mind That Your Contractor Is Not A Designer
In addition to being clear and concise, it’s helpful to remember that your contractor is not a designer, and you can not rely on them for having an aesthetic eye.
While contractors can help with technical aspects of the project, such as how to save on materials and supplies, their services don’t encompass coming up with creative ideas in terms of design or decor. So, you should spend enough time beforehand preparing your design vision for a clear brief to the contractor and to avoid miscommunication. If you need some expert support on this, ask a professional interior designer for help!
Be An Active Listener
Communicating with contractors also means being an active listener. If your contractor runs into a challenge or is struggling to find clarity in your needs, be an active listener and allow them to express their concerns in detail. This will potentially promote problem-solving together, especially as you will know your own priorities, and therefore will be better placed to guide and support them.
Be Transparent When Things Go Wrong
If the relationship with your contractor doesn't go as expected, clear the issue up before it has a negative impact on your project. One way to do so is by adopting transparent communication. Have a seat with your contractor, share that there were misunderstandings and/or miscommunications, and discuss how to proceed with the project. After all, you want the best result for your project, and if things are not going well, it's essential to address it head-on and change course immediately if needed.
Failing to communicate well with your contractor is one of the top mistakes new homeowners make. It can result in a project with less than satisfactory results and may also feel like a waste of time and energy. Keep the aforementioned tips in mind, and you will feel much more confident about the outcome of your project.
Also, embrace the technology, including any software and devices, your contractor employs along the way. Even if you’re not familiar with the tools, trusting their process will go a long way.
Struggling to communicate your vision to your contractor? Or having difficulty managing their costs and timelines? Book a Cost & Construction Guru today to help facilitate your conversation with the contractor and ensure you are getting the most out of your contractor relationship!