How to Manage a Contractor - From a Contractor

If you’ve hired a contractor to work in your home or place of business, it’s important that you or someone you trust keeps an eye on the work that’s being done. You don’t want to allow things to proceed unchecked for too long, in case things aren’t being completed to your satisfaction.

The project that you’ve hired a contractor to do is no doubt an important one, so check on things regularly to ensure that the work is being done correctly and according to schedule.

Here are a few tips to help you along the way:

Protect Yourself With Contracts. Before the work has even begun, be sure that you have everything you want to accomplish in writing. And then ensure that the work is being done to those specifications along the way by following up and staying involved. If it’s important enough to put in the contract, it’s important enough to follow through on. A good sample contract for construction can be found here. Use that as a minimal guide to cross reference the one provided by your contractor.

Never Pay Ahead of Time. You should never pay for work before it’s been completed, thus protecting yourself in case the contractor walks off the job. At the very minimum, pay only for the work that’s been done that day, in the case that the contractor insists that the project doesn’t move too far along without getting paid. In the case of materials, you can pay those costs upfront, but insist that the materials be delivered on the same day that they’re paid for. This will protect you, as well as the contractor.

Get A Schedule. Be sure that you and your contractor have an agreed upon schedule to work from at the beginning of the project, and then insist that the work is done according to that schedule. If work on one part of the project isn’t done on time, it throws the entire project out of whack, so it’s important that this schedule is adhered to by all concerned. "Too many times we get complaints from clients when they feel like the project is taking longer than expected" says Eddie Sanchez, a San Antonio home remodel contractor. "The reality is, most of our jobs are done on time or ahead of schedule, home owners rarely look at the timetable in the contract."

Visit the Job Site. Be sure to visit at least once every couple of days, particularly if you’re using a contractor that you’ve never used before. It’s also not a bad idea to just show up unannounced from time to time, so you have a better idea of what’s actually happening with the contractor and his or her crew. And don’t stop by at the same time each day, but mix it up so the contractor never knows when you’re going to be stopping by. Many contractors are honest and it won’t make much difference, but others would love to know ahead of time when you’re going to be stopping by so they can be sure that they’re hard at work during that time.