Ever have a contractor refuse to communicate with you as a designer? Demo and disappear? Unfortunately, there are great and not-so-great contractors out there and you are going to have to work with both kinds. It’s important that you know where to find quality contractors and that you know how to work with them effectively.
Finding the Best Contractor
Do the legwork of finding a quality contractor before you need them. Scrambling in a crunch is never the best time to be looking for a contractor. One effective method to locate quality contractors is through industry associations such as the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the National Association of Remodeling Industry (NARI), and the National Association of Professionally Accredited Contractors (NAPAC). These associations usually have chapters in major cities, and you can connect with top-notch contractors by either becoming a member or exploring their members’ directory.
Whenever you launch a new project with a new client, one of the questions you want to ask is, “Do you have any favorite providers that you’ve worked with that we could add to our list of referrals?” Additionally, you should be seeking referrals from colleagues, realtors, and other contractors. Contractors are a tight-knit community and they know each other, they will have plenty of recommendations. These suggestions are the best for you because they come already vetted by people that you trust and who have worked with them before.
The Vetting Process
When vetting contractors, it’s crucial to conduct thorough research and interviews before hiring. Start by interviewing potential contractors to gauge their experience, professionalism, and compatibility with your work style. Ask about their current projects and request to visit the sites to see their work firsthand. Don’t forget to gather references and verify their licenses, certifications, and insurance and remember to also do a thorough background check on potential contractors. This means also reviewing their driving records and any possible criminal history–that will help protect both you and your clients from potential issues down the line. Trust your gut feeling when making your decision, but always make sure you’ve done the necessary research first.
Don’t be afraid to have your contractors agree to a code of conduct. This not only ensures that you are on the same page but also sets the stage for a successful working relationship. By creating a detailed contractor code of conduct, you’re setting clear guidelines on dress and manners, communication and clarity, ethics and integrity, site maintenance, honoring the schedule, and working as an integral member of the team. While it may be difficult to enforce every aspect of the code, having it in place serves as a reminder to your contractors of the high standards you expect from them and sets the tone for a successful collaboration.
When you’re ready to take your design practice to the next level, explore your expert coaching and training options with Melissa Galt. To catch the entire podcast episode LISTEN HERE.