Dealing with Contractors, General Contractors, and Subcontractors, Part 1

Now that we know how to find the right general contractor, we can begin to talk about actually dealing and working with them.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could just sign the contract, hand over the keys, and have the job done ahead of schedule with no follow-though required on your part?  Unfortunately, you almost always have to be pretty involved in the renovation in order to get the best result.  Here’s how to do it:

Organization Tip:  If you are being your own General Contractor, keep an expandable folder (“redwell”) with individual folders inside for each trade.  For example, I have an expandable folder for each house that I’m working on, and inside are manila folders labeled “Plumbing”,  “Electricity”, etc.

  • There is no substitute for being on the job site!  While you are there, check for things that you won’t be able to see after they are covered up.
  • This is an important technique to keep the job moving quickly:  Ask your Contractor what work is going to be done next and when he expects it to be done.  Check to be sure that it will be done on schedule and if it isn’t, ask the Contractor about it (see references below).
  • constructionPhotograph the walls before they are covered up with the boards of drywall.  That way, you can see if any jacks have been covered up, and you will know the positions of the electrical and plumbing elements for future reference.
  • Check the smoothness of the drywall before and after painting.  Put your head close to the wall and look along the length of it while shining a flashlight on it.  This will enable you to see any bumps on the surface that need to be smoothed out.  Mark the areas with a pencil or with colored masking tape.
  • If you are being your own general contractor and expect to use the subcontractors on other occasions, I find that the best policy is to use gratitude and appreciation instead of a lot of praise.  I find that excessive praise of a job well done tends to drive my prices up.  Again, there’s nothing wrong with expressions of sincere gratitude and appreciation.  My prices go up when the Contractor feels indispensable!


Roofing Bixby

Associated General Contractors of America



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