"Follow these simple suggestions to have a more productive project schedule and rapport with your contractor.  

In order to maintain a reasonable deadline on a project and produce excellent results, it is

a must as with any relationship that there be mutual understanding and respect".



1. Don't delay decisions. If you want your remodel to go well, the best thing to do is make every single decision before work starts. A good contractor can talk you through the list of situations that might come up on your job, but decisions about situations aren't usually what cause delays.

Instead, most of the issues are related to decisions about things like paint, trim and faucet selection. These may seem small, but when need to special order your faucet and it is two weeks late, plumbers have to be rescheduled and the medicine cabinet door hits the faucet when it's installed, you’ll see how something small can balloon into a week’s delay on a five-week project.


2. Don't change your mind (too much). Even though it's inevitable that you'll change your mind about something on your project, know this: Every time you change your mind, it'll result in a change order. Although the change may seem minor, there are always added costs — even if it's only the time spent discussing the change.  Remember, your contractors "time" is what you are paying for as well as his reputation for good work.


Scheduling can be affected too. Everyone working on the job needs to be informed of the change so no one's working on the old plan. Everyone makes changes, and that's OK — just be aware of the potential to disrupt and delay or cause a mix up on the job and the cost of that decision to your contractor and ultimately to you.


3. Don't buy your own materials. It seems like an obvious way to save money — a contractor is going to mark up the cost of materials and pass that added cost on to you. That’s true, but the contractor may get a better price than you to begin with, meaning that even after markup, you'll pay almost the same price.  Also keep in mind, when you do this, you are taking from your contractor as this is also part of their income.  If you want to purchase materials and have only labor done then hire a labor only crew or a handy man.  An auto body paint shop makes money off the paint they use.  If you take them your own paint, they will still charge you the same price for their work as if they used their own products because mark up on their product is part of their revenue.  


4. Don't put lipstick on a pig. Though a contractor will rarely come right out and say this, some houses should be knocked down rather than have money put into them to fix them up. Though this is a rare situation, it’s common for people to put money into fancy cabinets for a house with a sagging foundation, or into a high-efficiency A/C unit for a house with no insulation. Listen to the contractor who comes to look at your job. Be open to their suggestions.  Most contractors will be honest.  If we are dishonest to make a dollar now, a bruised reputation for dishonesty ruins future business and more income is lost later in lost customers.  NailHead will tell you truth regardless if it lessens the total job profit in the outcome or increases it, truth is always the ultimate right decision!


5. Don't work without a contingency fund. If you find out that the work you wanted to do costs more than you expected or budgeted, you’re in good company. It’s almost unheard of that a person sets a realistic budget for a project. But don’t eat into your contingency to stretch the budget. If you follow rule number one and make every decision ahead of time, you can probably get away with a 5 to 10 percent contingency if you have a good contractor.


6. Don't let kids and pets get in the way. Though when a contractor is working in your home they often try to accommodate your pets and kids, they shouldn’t have to — it's just not safe to have children or animals around construction.  A contractor will sometimes have a form for you to sign releasing them from any responsibility should your minor child or pets be injured during the construction on your project, as it's best to have that clear in the beginning.  It protects everyone to have this expectation agreed on from the start.


7. Don't live in the home while the renovations are going on, (if possible). Most people ignore this rule, and for good reason. Remodeling is expensive, and moving out just adds to the cost. If you can’t move out for the whole job (depending on the size of the job), try to schedule some time away and set up a clean, comfortable place to retreat to when you can’t handle coming home to a messy and stressful construction site.  If you are merely having a small bathroom remodeled or a back deck built, of course moving out/leaving is not necessary and regardless, it's a decision to be made by you whether a small or large project.


8. Don't be a distraction. It may sound harsh, but every minute someone working on your house spends talking to you, they are not working on your house. Is the conversation important and one that will have an impact on the job? That's one thing, but the contractor on the job isn't charging any more to spend 30 minutes talking about your vacation plans.  Talking to him about trivial things only delays your project completion time.


9. Don't ignore what the house wants. Though some people can pull off wearing a pair of high-top sneakers with a tuxedo, it can also go horribly wrong. Houses are the same way. Can an ultramodern kitchen in a Victorian brownstone work? Absolutely, but make sure you can pull it off. This is not to say a house can’t evolve with the times. There are no hard and fast rules — just get to know your house, live in it and do your research before you pull out the sledgehammer and last but not least, make "sure" it's what you really want if it doesn't click with your contractor's advice and expertise.


10. Don't work without a design "plan". Some projects require an architect, some an interior designer, and sometimes a talented contractor will understand your aesthetic and help you come up with a good plan.  Whatever you do, don’t start a remodel without a detailed plan. A lot of elements interact in a space — put them all on paper and you’ll catch problems before they are executed. You may be able to build a functional space without a plan, but if you want a functional and beautiful space, hire a designer. (NailHead Contractors offers free design help with structural planning (on contracted projects) and a very reasonable fee for Interior Decor Design!)


11.  Don't ask your contractor to help you with 'other' projects in your home that are not on your contract.  Even though it may be trivial to you or a ten minute task (such as hanging a picture or moving furniture, cleaning areas we are not working in or asking our design team questions and ideas they are not being paid to answer) to the contractor, design team and his crew, it's vital time they are taking away from finishing your project and taking advantage of their availability of being in your home.  They may be working for you, but only for what you are 'paying' them to do. When you pull the workers away from what they are being paid to do, you are asking your contractor to pay their workers extra for something your contractor isn't getting paid for with the job. At NailHead Contractors though we do try to help in any area you might need it and not everything has to be in a written agreement, but for the most part to be fair to you our client and to us as your contractor, these guidelines should be followed as closely as possible.


12.  Don't "ever" discuss the project with your contractor's employees or sub contractors when your contractor is not available.  If you have any questions or changes or concerns, call your contractor and wait to discuss only with him or his administrative assistant.  The workers or subs are there working "for" your contractor and especially out of respect should not answer any questions as they may not be accurate answers and it's not their place to discuss business with their employer's clients.  A sub or laborer may lose his job if he doesn't direct any questions or concerns to us directly.


13.  Don't show off your contractor's work when it's 3/4 the way completed.  A contractor prides themselves with showing off their 'finished' work and if someone see's a job they are in the middle of without also getting to see the end result, it may hurt them by word of mouth or the person that saw it thinking that it didn't look great.  Not everyone can see potential or imagine the final outcome.  Do yourself and your contractor a favor and save the "reveal" for the day after they are finished and help them by showing off their beautiful 'job well done'!


14.  Don't expect anything more than what you give the contractor to work with.  If you have a 10 x 10 kitchen and choose not to knock down walls to expand it's size, don't be disappointed in his work because you expected it to 'look or seem' larger just because you only opted for new cabinets and sink.  Also, your contractor may suggest a different color paint for your walls to go with your newly built or installed cabinets, tub, appliances, counters and should you decide to keep your existing color to save money, please don't hold your disappointment against him if it doesn't look as you imagined.  Your contractor usually has a designer (we do) that can tell you what might look best and it's up to you to utilize their skills and expertise and should you choose not to take their advice, take responsibility for that decision, it won't be your contractor's fault if the red walls suddenly clash with your new bronze with green and gold specs granite counter tops.


15.  Don't ask for free interior decorating advice.  Many contracting companies have a skilled interior design consultant on staff and that may accompany your contractor to the initial meeting, (we do) that will be happy to help you with design ideas, wall art ideas, colors etc. and/or even do a complete interior design, but this is a fee based service.  Many times clients will look at them and ask "So since you do interior decorating, what do you think I should put on that wall and do you think those drapes look good with my furniture?"  An Interior Designer is giving their income away to offer free advice and they also take time to decide what looks best where, not an instant decision if they work smart.  With NailHead, our designers are very reasonable and skilled and ready to help redesign your space.  Ask for details if you feel you need design assistance from our team, they will give you a very fair quote!