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Activities near you will have this indicator Within 2 Miles. To save your home and search preferences Join Active or Sign In. To save your home and search preferences. Great merchants! Great products! Great value! See All Benefits. If a painter is on the job already, it's fine to ask for free touch-ups in other rooms, says Kara O'Brien, a general contractor in Atlanta. Could you upgrade the wiring in another room? An electrician who is already working in the house may offer a deal to do work in other rooms, especially if he doesn't have to open the walls himself, says Black.

Could you replace the smoke and CO detectors? An electrician who is already on the job may be willing to waive the fee for replacing or augmenting smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors. Read up ahead of time on where they should go. Could you flag any weak framing? If crew members are already poking into the walls and floors, it's okay to ask them to watch for signs of rotting wood.

You'll be charged for time and materials to replace it, but meanwhile a pro has helped prevent more expensive fixes down the road. Could you advise me on another project? Tradesmen are often a font of free design advice, and that's a good thing. Prompted by a client's query, O'Brien once volunteered a tip for giving exposed brick a faux-aged look scrub it down with muriatic acid. People love to trade tales about contractors who charge too much, do too little, or even disappear before the job is done. But it turns out there are two sides to this relationship. You didn't know? Well, maybe you're already the kind of classy homeowner who can melt a heart hardened by years of working inside other people's homes.

For those who may be newer to the tradesman-client relationship, meet the six most dreaded homeowner-personality types in the business. All are based on real-life stories shared by pros who have seen it all and hope never to see these types again.

1. Your expectations are too high.

If you recognize yourself, don't panic; we've included suggestions on how to redeem your reputation. Now all you need is to get one of your favorite pros to return your phone calls. The Hysteric Identifying trait: Childlike inability to see the bigger picture. Pros hate having to break in a novice, especially one as touchy as a feral cat.

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Then I had to try to calmly explain to her as she continued crying that everything was going fine. Yes, the home was in shambles—it's called demolition. Still hate to watch?


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Hide out at Starbucks. The Compulsive Communicator Identifying trait: Eyes always locked on a small electronic device. Communication is a good idea, up to a point. It became unbearable.

How to Get The Most From Your Contractor | This Old House

To avoid pounding your pro with hailstones, send one note at day's end—an evening squall, so to speak. Reva Kussmaul, author of Remodel Secrets to a Successful Remodeling Relationship , says that as a contractor she once arrived at a work site to find the homeowner packing 12 huge boxes.

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I mean, come on! She encourages homeowners to treat remodeling pros like other pros—surgeons, say. The Perfectionist Identifying trait: Projects feelings of inadequacy onto others. Of course you deserve superb workmanship, and in a timely manner. But whether it's delivery of the new tub before noon or the envisioned placement of a switch plate, nothing will ever be perfectly perfect.

If you suspect that you, too, qualify as "tightly wound," start with a realistic calendar—your pro can help—and be glad if the tub arrives before he's off to his next job. Kussmaul had a client who thought that "since he organized a carpool, he could act as project manager," she recalls. He wasn't happy when I charged him for the time. The Meddler Identifying trait: Uses his outside voice even when he's in your face. The Meddler is always on the job, which is no help at all. Skip to main content. Sign up today for our FREE email newsletters and get helpful tips delivered to your email inbox.

Illustration by Catherine Meurisse. Learn to talk the talk Figure out what your project involves before you call in a pro. Do some of the grunt work As Zembruski learned during the redo of his house, remodeling pros are just like office workers: There are aspects of the job that they don't love. While You're at It… Seven requests you should never make and seven you can—and should What you can't ask for 1. Too many contractors burn out and have zero time to spend with their families because they chase ignorant customers with ridiculous expectations and then charge prices that are insufficient to afford them a good living.

Every business is different. You also might be looking at your markup differently than me. Contractors are definitely a terrible group of business owners as a whole. As contracting laws get tougher and licensing becomes more stringent, I see contractors coming from more educated groups of people, many of whom have actually studied some business at community college or university. Todd Hanks from Crowley, Louisiana Replied about 2 years ago. A few years ago I got my MBA from the University of Louisiana — Lafayette near me but stayed with my business rather starting from the ground up at the age of 42 in another field.

About that time, I started flipping houses, too. In the last 3. Now I have 8 lots that I am going to build spec houses on.

To do this, I have to study just a little more to get to the next level and get a full GC license. I mainly got the Remodelers license and will be getting the GC license so that I can do my own work, pull my own permits, build from the ground up and not get any flack from the city or state. The good thing at this point is that, by having my own properties to build, I can pick and choose which jobs from others I want to take.

BTW, I totally agree with your article above. I am new to giving people quotes on large jobs. I know how much it will generally cost me to flip a house because I know what I want, how picky I will be, what I will be worried about, etc. But trying to give line item bids is a royal pain.

I told my wife that I hate it so much, it almost makes me not want to do contracting. I hope I can figure out the best way that works for me when doing jobs for others. Thanks for the article! Really good article Eric Bowlin. I have a few different contractors.

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Some are very informal and highly competent handymen, while others are professional firms with high structure and processes. I have to look at the project and determine how much of my involvement it may need and how much I can afford. For example, I did a rehab that was a labor only situation and I was heavily involved was there nearly every day bringing supplies, exchanging items, etc….

It was very economical, but if I put a price on my own time…. On the very next job I hired a more expensive contractor that was pretty much turnkey. But I did have to pay more. Your 9 item list is a good way to think about it. Great points. What you need also depends on how much time you have to devote and how busy you are. Like every one else a professional needs to make a living. In our area a skilled craftsman is expected to receive that kind of compensation.

Hey I have a section of fence needs to be done just 8 ft wide. Same with real estate business. Can you find some tenants to be my tenants? I expect the following: …………..