There are parts of every job, no matter what field you’re in, that are just less fun than others. Building professionals pride themselves on doing anything and everything to make clients happy. But that doesn’t always mean the builder is jumping up and down with excitement at every stage of a project.
When it comes to remodeling and home building, contractors will do just about anything to make you happy. They’ll meet with you on short notice. They’ll come up with creative solutions to your unique requests. They’ll even clean your toilets if you ask (although maybe not for free).
Contractors may have a brave face on at all times, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: There are some things they just don’t like to hear. Such as …
1. “I reselected my plumbing fixtures.” Most good contractors will harp on how important it is to get all your selections made as soon as possible. Some won’t even start a project until everything is selected. It’s a great practice, and it helps to keep your project going as smoothly as possible.
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So if you come to your builder in the middle of the project and say, “Hey, by the way, I chose all new plumbing fixtures for the master bathroom,” they might get a little nervous. Depending on what stage of work they’re in and what you reselected, this could be no big deal. Or it could mean doing a lot of extra work to prepare for the new fixtures. Even worse, there may be a lead time associated with your new selections. This could cause an unplanned stop in work, which nobody (homeowners, subcontractors, builders, neighbors) likes.
2. “Can we hang this chandelier up there?” (Points to 20-foot-tall ceiling.) Why, yes! Yes, we can. I’ll just be sitting in the corner biting my nails as I watch my electricians stand on massive ladders that I (the person with the fear of heights) would never set foot on, all while they hold and hang a massively heavy and most likely expensive chandelier. But, yeah, we can definitely do that. No problem.
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There’s really no way to avoid challenges like this. But it helps to give your builder a heads up on out-of-the-ordinary needs you may have. That way, he or she can take extra precautions, such as setting up scaffolding, and warn you of any additional costs that your request could involve.
3. “Can you meet at 5 p.m. this Friday?” Admittedly, I don’t think anyone likes to hear this. Contractors may work long hours and be available pretty much whenever you need them to be, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t want to go home a little early (or at least leave on time) on Friday to relax.
A great way to ensure you’ll have your contractor’s undivided attention is to set up recurring meetings. Find a time that works for both of you and save it in your calendars. That way, no one has to worry about last-minute, pre-weekend meetings.
4. “Let’s make all of the walls smooth!” I think smooth walls are beautiful. They’re crisp and clean and are a must in my book. I’ll say this much, though: They aren’t always easy. It’s one thing to hire a high-quality drywall contractor who is a pro at smooth finishes. It’s another thing entirely to have all involved parties be happy with the final product.
It’s kind of like If You Give a Moose a Muffin. It starts with one thing that needs to be fixed (“That corner isn’t perfectly square”) and seemingly overnight turns into a mile-long punch list detailing everything from millimeter-wide blemishes to areas of texture that look weird in a certain light. Like I said, I adore smooth walls, but getting them to a level of smoothness that everyone can agree on can be a bit of a task.
If you can find it within yourself to hold off on the nitpicking until your builder at least has the paint primer up (this is the stage when it’s easiest to see any remaining imperfections), you’ll save yourself and your builder a headache.
5. “Could you help me move [insert expensive item here]?” Grand pianos, $50,000 paintings, one-of-a-kind sculptures — you name it, I’m afraid of moving it. Asking remodelers to help you move something valuable to you (whether monetarily or emotionally) is asking them to take on a lot of liability.
While it may make sense to ask them for a little help — after all, they have plenty of crews, and they’re already at your house — it’s not worth the risk for any party involved. Your best bet is rephrasing the question to “Do you know anyone I could hire to help me move [insert expensive item here]?”
As I was speaking to my co-workers for their take on things contractors “hate” to do, it became apparent to me that, for the most part, there isn’t too much that we won’t do to make our customers happy. On top of that, there aren’t a huge number of things that make us shudder. (Notable exception: When someone used the toilet at a house where the water wasn’t on — yuck.)
There might be materials or tasks contractors try to avoid if they can, and some might even steer their customers away from certain things to make everyone’s life a little easier. (Our in-house designer avoids marble in kitchens at all costs because of its susceptibility to stains.) But in the end, we’re in the customer service game for a reason. We love to make people happy, and we’ll do whatever we can to facilitate that.
By Hannah Kasper, Houzz