Working with Contractors

Read these tips on how to work with a contractor when renovating your home.

Working with Contractors

A Fine Mess

Most states have some type of home improvement laws that protect consumers when dealing with contractors. These laws vary from state to state, so it's a good idea to know what the law is in yours.

On large projects, it's a good idea to talk to your contractor on a regular basis. Keep the lines of communication open. When you have questions, be as specific as you possibly can about your concerns.

On small jobs — even little things like spraying for bugs — it's always a good idea to be on hand if it's the first time you've used the company. How someone goes about doing the job will tell you a lot about whether or not you want to use them again. Don't hover unnecessarily, but keep an eye on how the job is done. Again, ask questions if you don't understand things.

If you avoided hiring an underground contractor, you should have a good experience as the job unfolds. However, problems can and do arise. When they do, deal with them as soon as they become known. Don't let small problems become big ones over failures to communicate. Talk directly to the contractor, not to his subs. Give the contractor reasonable time to respond and remedy the situation. There could be issues that aren't obvious to you that the contractor is trying to work out without involving or upsetting you.

If problems worsen and you're not receiving satisfactory answers, send a letter to the company outlining the problems. Copy your attorney on the letter. Depending on the severity of the problems, you might need to take additional steps, including contacting the appropriate authorities.

If problems can't be resolved, you might have to terminate the contract, and possibly sue the contractor. As such, it's always a good idea to communicate in writing if problems aren't solved to your satisfaction.

If you believe you've been ripped off, call the consumer division of your state attorney general's office.