Just like in any profession, contractors sometimes say things that may be completely obvious to them but makes no sense to you. Here are a few tips to help you translate what your general contractor is saying and what he/she means.
- "Let's do it this way"- It is highly likely that your contractor has more experience thank you in residential construction; it's no surprise that he may want to recommend a process that he finds to be more efficient. It's probably best to go with his recommendation rather than having him experiment on your project (unless you don't mind).
- "I'll get started on…"- When your contractor sets a start date and completion date, he should be able to keep it. Consider it + or – fives days. These dates are contingent upon the subcontractors (plumber, electricians, etc.) schedule.
- "The price is..."- When your contractor gives you a price, expect that he didn't arrive at this price out of thin air. It took hours of evaluating the square footage of your project, the work that needs to be done, and the materials that you have selected to be used; this leaves very little room for negotiation. However, the price may change if you decide to change the scope of work in the middle of construction.
- "I'll do my best"- If you hear this, listen to your gut. Is what you're asking for unrealistic? Have you added work to the scope, but expect the project to be completed by the same completion date? Are you expecting a brand new look from a remodel with existing elements?
- There are three key elements to every project: quality, price, and time. Pick two key components that are the most important to you. If you need everything perfect by a certain date, be prepared to pay more. If you have a fixed budget but want a certain look, be prepared to allow time for your contractor to be creative and make it work.
- "The design needs to be tweaked"- This often means that what you've asked for is unbuildable. Try to be understanding that while it may be a very cool design and concept, it may be just a little unrealistic.
- "I don't think we're a good fit"- If a contractor declines to do an estimate or any work on your project, it could be for many reasons. He could be concerned about your budget, the expected time frame, or maybe you two just didn't "click" during the first meeting. Don't take it too personal, it was probably for the better.
- "We to need to do value engineering"- Basically, you have caviar dreams on a cheese and cracker budget. Value engineering is done when the contractor has to think creatively on how to rework your project to get you your desired result for less, such as changing material selections.
- "Let's make a punch list"- This is when a contractor wants to finalize the work that was done. Make a list of minor things that you want to be completed before you both officially call the project completed. Every trip that is made to your job costs your contractor and you, so make an effort to come up with a complete punch list at once instead of little by little.