The Secret to Making the Customer Happy
Everything you need to Know: http://LearnRemodeling.com
There are bad contractors out there who make it bad for all of us. But there are many times more bad homeowners out there who make it really bad for a lot of us. Some of these owners expect us to finance their fancy ideas. Then they want to change the plans, layouts and materials after the job is started. They want these changes done for free or next to nothing because they could not communicate their “vision” to you. Here’s the trick – as a contractor we need to make sure our clients understand exactly what they are getting. If not, you as the contractor are the professional, it is your responsibility to make them understand that they should ask questions, if they don’t understand 100% – we are extremely happy to explain things again – even if it takes going through the plans, layout, materials or the contract a few times. It makes for an overall satisfying experience for them, and a quality and profitable job for us (yes, we are in business, to make money).
I am speaking as a fully qualified general and home improvement contractor who has been doing remodeling since 1967, experienced in two different states (both of which have strong qualification requirements and state level contractor regulatory law and inspectors). I can tell you that any reputable contractor who’s any good and wants to stay in business, while making a profit, will follow at a minimum the following guidelines:
1) Payment schedule, while negotiable before the job starts, should be: 33% due and payable, in cash or certified check, on the day the job starts; another 33% due on the same basis either when the job is 1/3 to ½ done or the day the bulk of the framing, electrical and plumbing rough-in is complete. Final payment due and paid at completion of job minus 5% of final balance if insisted by homeowner as security to assure homeowner that any items that were missed by contractor will be corrected, the homeowner will have 10 days to comprise a punch list for correction of problems. After these items are corrected, the contractor will furnish a lien release from all material suppliers and sub-contractors. At this time as agreed, the homeowner will make final payment to contractor plus any extras the homeowner decided he wanted after the job is completed. A warranty to come back at a later date and correct problems that arise as a result of an oversight by the contractor or the homeowner or something that breaks as a result of a bad part etc. the contractor will repair it for up to a year or whatever is customary for the locale. A list of specifics can be made.
2) No work commences – at any point – until a full description in writing is signed by both contractor and homeowner. Description should include a projected start-date and a probable finish-date.
3) In addition, a part of that same written agreement will be an agreement that any and all disputes over payment, workmanship and/or completion will be subject to a binding arbitration process administered by the state licensing board (or similar organization), and that a “workman’s lien” is explicitly accepted and agreed to by the homeowner until all payments have been made to contractor.
4) Whenever and wherever possible, doing work of any kind for doctors or lawyers or their spouses (or their close relatives/friends, for that matter) should be avoided like the Kiss Of Death – I’ve never worked for one of them who didn’t, sooner or later (mostly sooner) try to screw me to death, including, on one occasion, my own family (general-practice) doctor.
Those are minimum guidelines, remember…
As for homeowners, the single most important thing they can do to protect themselves is to CHECK REFERENCES. Plus some common sense should tell anyone not to give a guy all his money up front, then wonder where he’s gone to.
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