Avoiding Disputes with your Contractor
Avoiding Disputes With Your Contractor
As a licensed independent contractor, our reputation and our business depend on making sure our customers are pleased with the quality of our work and the way in which it is performed. Over the years, we have completed thousands of projects successfully. In many cases we are asked to return again and again by the same homeowner!
- Be realistic about the scope of your project and your budget. You can’t buy a Cadillac for the price of a Kia. At the same time you should not be charged Cadillac prices for a low quality.
- Insist that a formal statement of work be drawn up. This statement of work should be a written contract between you and the contractor that details exactly what the contractor will do, when it will be completed, terms of payment, and provisions for dispute resolution.
- Do not accept verbal promises from your contractor. Any good contractor will be happy to provide a written document.
- A good contract will contain progress milestones. In other words, the entire job may take three months, but key performance measures are also given completion dates within the schedule. This should also include a starting date!
- The contractors should assign a project manager to your job. Sometimes it is the contractor himself, more often it is a senior member of his team. The project manager is the “point of responsibility” for the progress and quality of the work.
- You should have the cell phone numbers of the project manager and the contractor in case you have a concern. Don’t abuse this by calling about every little detail! But you should feel free to ask questions or voice your concern about significant issues.
- The project manager should provide you with a daily plan of work to be completed, and provide a summary at the end of the day of what has been accomplished.
- Keep in mind that the work is being done in your home. You have the right to insist on certain conditions such as no smoking, no loud radios, etc. Don’t be shy about setting reasonable conditions.
- If the contractor must change something in the course of the work, he should tell you immediately. It may be something simple like substituting an alternate material, or something more significant like a change in design. You have the right to know about and discuss such changes before they are completed.
- Despite everybody’s best efforts, a disagreement may arise between you and the contractor.
- If you have a concern or question, it is important to bring it up as soon as possible. Waiting may only make the situation worse. A good contractor will welcome your questions and input.
- Be flexible. Minor changes in plans or materials occur on almost every project. Most will not affect the overall look and quality of the end result.
- You should generally defer to the judgment of the contractor on questions of construction methods and materials. But changes in design, color or scope of work are areas in which your input is essential.
- Approach any disagreement calmly but firmly. Ask for an explanation and reason for any changes being considered. Keep an open mind about accepting the contractor’s suggestions. But know that, in the end, it is your home and your word is final.
- In the event that a disagreement cannot be resolved between you and the contractor, the contract should specify a dispute resolution process. This may include arbitration.
Since 1976, Capizzi Home Improvements has never had to go to arbitration or legal proceedings with a customer. That’s because we handle our problems professionally to make sure the customer is satisfied at the end of the day. Setting clear expectations at the outset minimizes problems, and rapid notification and resolution of problems that do occur makes everybody happy in the end.