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Choose a contractor like you would a date: You both need to want to work together on the project. Your contractor is likely evaluating you as a potential client while you’re interviewing contractors, so show him or her that you’d be easy to work with during the interview process.

A deal often begins with a meeting and exchanging information to make sure both parties are compatible. During this stage, it’s important to carefully examine your plans to determine whether the contractor can build what you’re envisioning.

Communication is essential between you and your contractor every step of the way if you’re going to be working with one. The following tips will help you keep communication open throughout the planning process, avoid surprises, and stay involved from the very beginning.

Clarify your budget at the start

You always have your best interest covered when you discuss your budget with your general contractor. You must know what you can afford and be upfront about it. Your contractor will provide you with an estimate that accurately portrays what they can do for you within the parameters of your budget. A contractor who does not understand what you can afford could end up costing you more than you originally planned if they use materials or implement different features that rack up a price you cannot afford.

A contract should include all the details of the project

By clearly defining the scope of the project in a written contract, any miscommunications will be avoided. Detailed labor and materials cost information is required, down to the model number.

Don’t use allowances in contracts, which are blank spaces for items that haven’t been determined. Apart from creating misunderstandings, allowances can blow your budget, for example, if the product is much more expensive than anticipated.

Asking the right questions

Keeping in touch with your contractor is crucial to ensuring the project’s success. It’s Important to use status questions such as ‘what are you working on next?” You might, however, find it more helpful to ask direct questions. Don’t forget to keep a journal when you meet with your contractor (ask questions and raise concerns!).

Record your thoughts in a journal

Document your project in a journal. Whether you keep notes on your phone or handwrite them into a notebook, this is a good place for keeping track of your project timeline, delivery dates, and daily (or weekly) progress. It is also a good idea to keep a notebook nearby in case you have questions that arise at random throughout the day. Your last conversation will be a handy reference when you connect again.

Establish a communication strategy

Before the start of the project, ask the contractor how he or she prefers to communicate, and then share your preferred method of communication as well. The contractor will need to reach you daily, so schedule a time that works for both of you and decide if you want to meet on-site every day. Be sure to check in with your contractor throughout the day over the phone or via text so you can address any issues as they arise.

Key Takeaway

As your project moves from the drawing board to reality, you and your contractor will be on the same page. The key to smooth projects is clear communication—and a happy customer and contractor.