When a contractor doesn't live up to expectations, some homeowners are quick to take to Yelp, Angie's List, HomeAdvisor, or Google to post a negative review. But did you know your contractor can do the same?
In the past few years, a number of websites have cropped up allowing businesses to write reviews on the customers they work with.
Sites like ContractorsCustomers.com and RateMyCustomers allow contractors and other business owners to look up customers by name or street address to see how they have interacted with other businesses, which can include roofers, interior designers, and even dentists.
The websites are essentially a way to blacklist customers who are difficult to work with or refuse to pay for work performed. And if your name winds up on one of them, you may have a hard time getting it removed.
According to RateMyCustomers, homeowners who want their name removed first have to try to resolve the issue with the business. If that doesn't work, they can submit a response to the review. It will be forwarded to the business and may be added to the comments below the initial review, at the site moderator's discretion.
If your name is on one of these sites with a bad review, it could be difficult to find a someone willing to work with you.
So, how do you avoid this fate? Like any relationship, successful collaboration with a contractor requires effort, communication, honesty, and respect. Hopefully, you've done your homework to hire someone great; now it's up to you to hold up your end of the deal.
How to set your relationship up for success
No matter who you hire or how well you plan out your job, issues can arise. Follow these tips to better manage or even avoid major problems.
Nicola Shelley, Director of Sales and Marketing for Synergy Design & Construction in Reston, VA, recommends being realistic on cost and time. “Despite what reality TV shows lead you to believe, major remodels cannot be completed in three weeks for a few thousand dollars," Shelley says.
Having a detailed Scope of Work can ensure you and your contractor are on the same page before work even starts. But it's smart to go into renovations understanding that complications are almost inevitable and can cause your project to take longer or cost more than originally planned. For example, rotten or uneven subflooring, corroded plumbing, old electrical, and lead paint can present costly and time-consuming challenges that can send your renovation off track.
When your contractor brings issues like these to your attention, realize your project's timeline and budget may be a moving target. Don't immediately assume your contractor is to blame if the project falls behind schedule or goes over projected costs. Having realistic expectations will go a long way toward ensuring a smooth relationship with your contractor.
Discuss issues respectfully
If problems do arise, approach your contractor to discuss your concerns calmly.
Justin Denison, the owners of Times Two, a construction and remodeling contractor in Louisville, KY, says the way you address issues with your contractor can really affect the outcome.
“Any time someone decides to call you yelling or upset, it can instantly ruin your day," Denison says. “It's a lot easier for us to resolve the conflict when the client keeps a cool head."
Consider meeting with your contractor at a specific time each day (or week, for longer-term projects) to review progress on the project, ask questions and discuss potential issues. Scheduling this time ensures you aren't constantly pulling your contractor away from the job.
One of the best ways to have a good relationship with your contractor is to make working with you an enjoyable experience. That means being professional, courteous, and paying them on time. Once you've signed the contract, you are equally accountable for making sure the project runs smoothly. How you interact with your contractor can be the difference between a project's success or failure.