What can I do as an investor...

4 Replies

What can I do as a real estate investor to be the best client for a contractor? I will be the first to say that I do NOT know the ins & outs of construction. How do I NOT be a pain in the backside for a contractor? I want the GC to feel good about working on my projects. Are there things to avoid doing?    

@Kim Horn ,

Who is hiring who?   They are working for you, so let them worry about making sure it's a great experience.. how can you make it s a good experience for them?   Pay them on time per the contract, and if it's a good experience for you-- refer them to other investors!      I think you're worrying a bit too much about them, maybe be nice and leave them a pack of waters? 

I make it very clear that although we are "partners" in the project, I am the boss. I ask his professional opinion on things that he has more experience with, but I have the checkbook and, ultimately, make the final decision. Most good contractors know this going in and if you are getting flak, find another contractor.

Hi Kim,

That is a great question!  I am sure you will get plenty of feedback from the contractors around here and other investors that have good contractors that they work with.

I have been working with contractors for over 12 years as a Designer, Estimator, and a Supplier of all things interior and a few things exterior. 

First is to have realistic expectations-find out what is standard in your area for timelines and pricing (each season is different for different contractors) Interior contractors (flooring, drywall, paint, cabinets, etc are quite busy from June-Aug and October-January in our area as weather forces projects to move inside and after the spring build rush).  Ask around regarding labor rates and how far out they are typically booked.  If many contractors in your area are booked 3-4 weeks out, then tell them what your closing date will be on a property and get them penciled in, or be prepared to wait.  Being pro-active will go a long way.  Don't schedule them then cancel less than a week before the project...that is food off their table.

Clear Communication - don't assume anything.  Have a detailed and clear scope of work.  Until you work with a contractor long enough that you both know what to expect - more info is always better than less.  Ask for input from the experts.  Ask them what you are forgetting, or what other contractors will be involved in each portion of a project.  My favorite question is, "what is NOT included that I need to be thinking about?".  Who else will I need to complete this "Kitchen remodel", Tub replacement, Flooring installation?  

Often, they want you to know what you want - or what you want to accomplish - but they don't want to give design advice.  This is a generalization, but most contractors that I have worked with just want to go in and do the job and get on to the next one. 

Work around their schedule - early morning, lunch breaks and after the end of the day are the best time for contractors to meet onsite for bidding and walk-through s.  Tell them in advance the general size of the project so they can be prepared.  If you are going to be doing multiple walk thru s while you look at properties then offer to pay for their time to be onsite (flat fee).

As with most of us, don't waste their time.  Be respectful of their expertise.  Be prepared.

And...I would not be the Designer or Sales Manager if I didn't say - the company I have my day job with works in Sweet Home and I would love to chat with you more!

Kim,

#1 thing you can do is to pay him quickly. 

There are a number of great contractors out there but there are still many who will take advantage of you if you bend over backwards to meet their every request. I would not worry too much about accommodating your contractor's every want - if you give a mouse a cookie...

 If you want, talk to neighbors to ensure that there is a place for crew members to park their cars. That goes a long way with the people who are actually building your project.

Ask a lot of clarifying questions via email such as "Does your bid have everything in it to provide a full plumbing system?" So you don't get nickeled & dimed for small vents, valves, etc. I've even made these email conversations an exhibit to the contract.

Provide as many product specifications as possible to set expectations for what is being installed. If you're expecting a Wolf range, make sure the Contractor knows this before he prices Whirlpool (nothing wrong with Whirlpool, it's just not Wolf). Specify vent registers, hardware, fixtures, towel hooks, etc.

Be present. Walk the site and ask questions. Most contractors take pride in their work and are happy to show-off their progress. If the contractor doesn't want to do this, there may be problems. Also, even to an untrained eye, if something doesn't look right, it probably isn't. I've walked construction sites for a long time and it still happens where a nontechnical person asks an innocent question only to catch a small problem before it becomes a big problem.

Best of luck!

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