Dealing with contractors

8 Replies

I'm doing some rehab on a house that I purchased the beginning of the month. I wanted some advice when dealing with contractors in the future:

When I walked through the house with the contractor, we agreed on what needs to be done, but towards the end they forget. Everything that we agreed upon was verbal. 

Do you guys give contractors a checklist of all the Items that was discussed during the walk thru on day one? Any contracts signed? How do you normally approach this to make sure they're on the same page as you?

You have to put everything you want in writing. Some contractors may forget, some may take advantage, but without it in writing, it is almost certain there will be missed items that you feel he owes and he feels are additional.

You should absolutely develop a detailed Scope of Work. They will not and cannot be expected to remember everything you go over verbally. The other advantage of a Scope of Work is that if you're working with multiple contractors (very common) or have a General Contractor or Project Manager overseeing the whole job, your SOW can show all the work that has to be done and the dependencies of each sub's work. For example, your SOW might show that you need bathroom cabinets installed by one contractor, but before that can be done, your plumber needs to run a new water line to the bathroom sink. The SOW would  show both of those activities with the plumber's work to be done first. That way the contractor knows someone is coming in before him or her and that work must be done first. Post the SOW at the job site - just a big print out posted on a wall or somewhere that it's visible to everyone helps keep everyone on the same page. We use an online tool called Smartsheet to develop our SOW and budget and just worked off a template they already had so we didn't have to reinvent the wheel, but there are other great tools out there. @J Scott has some examples in The Book of Flipping Houses and The Book on Estimating Rehab Costs and I'm sure you could find other examples online. Good luck to you!

@Brian Pulaski thank you!

@Chris Low great tips! I think I definitely need to implement a clear SOW. I'm gonna look into "smart sheet" as well.

@Chris Low that's a great tip! thanks! scope of work is something that everyone should make use of.

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@Chris Low just noticed you're from Redding, I'm a neighbor having grown up in Chico. Sounds like your scope of work is almost like a schedule if it shows tasks dependent on other tasks. Nevertheless I think that's a great idea. To make a little easier for someone starting out and who might not know what necessarily comes before what they can always just make a list with all necessary work items shown and ask a GC to provide a schedule if necessary. 

@Andy S. rule #1 for construction work (which funny enough is hardly ever followed) is to always have something in writing.

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