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Choosing the person or company who will manage your renovation project is a tall order, especially in New York City where construction pros are a dime a dozen. After you’ve carefully selected the candidates, completed interviews, and reviewed their estimates, you’ll finally choose which contractor will oversee your project and be a part of your life for the next several months –– or years, depending on the scope.

During this process, think of the contractor and yourself as partners in the project. Staying on the same page is crucial, so your remodel can get finished on time and within the established budget. Along the way, try and keep these five tips in mind and hopefully, you’ll see eye to eye and avoid potential bumps in the road.

1. Establish boundaries from the get-go.

Your contractor and his sub-contractors will probably be spending more time in your residence than you. It’s important to establish boundaries early on. Let him know what’s acceptable and what’s off limits. Perhaps you’re okay with workers taking lunch breaks in your apartment, but you’re not okay with smoke breaks. Be clear from the beginning about every last detail, so no stone goes unturned.

2. Communicate openly and on a regular basis.

You’ll want to stay in communication throughout the process and make sure your relationship remains in good standing until the final punch-list item is completed. Schedule weekly meetings to review things like the job schedule, delays, or issues with materials, delivery, etc. Treat your relationship with your contractor like you do your marriage. The more you talk to the person and keep the lines of communication open, the less likely you’ll experience friction and disagreements.

3. Pay on time.

If your contractor delivers the goods, expect to pay on time. Decide on the payment schedule at the start of the job and stick to it. Not only does he need to eat, but his subs will as well. Don’t withhold money unless the contractor isn’t holding up his end of the deal. And then, it’s best to nip any issues in the bud and confront him immediately. This apartment or townhouse is your home, but this job is his livelihood.


4. Let him do the job.

Don’t micromanage your contractor. You hired him for his expertise and probably also because you trusted him over any of the others you interviewed. Let him work, and follow his lead. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but create a list to review during your weekly meetings rather than bombarding him on a daily basis.

5. Be sure every detail is in writing.

Besides your cost estimate and scope of work, be sure any revisions are written down as well. Change orders are an everyday aspect of construction projects and having records will keep the remodel running smoothly and help to avoid errors.

Make sure the contract includes a mediation clause. More than likely, you’ll never need to use it, but knowing how disputes will be handled legally should something go wrong will make you sleep easier at night.


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