10 Things to discuss with your contractor before construction begins

NARI horizontal logoOf all the donations we receive here at Community Forklift, we’ve found that some of the best materials come to us through contractors.

The Metro DC Chapter of the National Association of Remodeling Industry has been very helpful in this regard. As a trade organization of remodelers, NARI members believe in giving back to the local community. They’ve held networking events and collections for Community Forklift, and members often donate materials. Now, they’ve even offered to help with our blog!  

Big thanks to Addie Merrick-Phang, of Merrick Design and Build in Kensington MD, for being the first NARI member to share her expertise with us. Here is her advice about planning ahead for a remodel:

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10 Things to discuss at your Job Start meeting

What you need to review with your Contractor before construction begins

A remodel can, at the very least, be stressful. At its worst it can be a complete nightmare, but there’s good news – it does not have to be! Having open communication with your contractor from the very start will eliminate many of the headaches that make a remodel so uncomfortable. To help ease the pain we have devised a list of the top things you need to review with your contractor before construction begins.

  1. Start and End Times: No one likes being woken up by a jack hammer. So, agreeing on when to start and when to end construction each day is key to managing your stress level. Knowing when workers will be coming and going will eliminate surprises and let you schedule your own routine. This way your schedule and that of your construction team don’t have to overlap.
  2. Children and Pets: If you’re worrying all day about Fido getting out or your kids playing in the construction zone after school you’re most likely not going to be winning employee of the month. Make sure to review special instructions regarding your kids and pets with your crew. Barriers can be set and gates can be kept closed. Keeping your loved ones safe is just as important to your crew. They ideally need to focus on your project, not whether or not a child or pet is going to run off with their expensive tools.
  3. Project Access: It’s important to know how your construction crew will gain access to the work site. Will you always be home to let them in and out or do they need a key? You don’t want them wasting time waiting for you to return from an errand just to let them inside. Should they use the side, front or back door? Agreeing on these points will help keep your project on schedule and construction mess contained.
  4. Parking: Parking is different in every neighborhood. Some areas require permits, have street cleaning days, or other restrictions on parking. Make sure your contractor is aware of all of these. It is also important to agree in advance on what to do if a parking ticket is issued to a member of your crew. Parking is not something you want to be dealing with on a regular basis so get this out of the way in order to focus on more important things.
  5. Toilet Facilities: Everyone has to go, but no one wants muddy boot prints in their guest powder room. Agree on this upfront, if the crew will need to rent a porta-john they need to know before they roll up for demo day.
  6. Utilities: It is the nature of construction, your utilities will be switched on and off, sometimes multiple times a day. A good contractor will give you notice if a utility will be down for more than a single work day but, just in case, make sure to go over this with them. If there are any important electronics that will need to be reset, such as a fish tank or alarm system make sure your crew knows.2016 - 06 Pic for NARI June newsletter - compressed
  7. Preparing for Construction: This encompasses many things that are regularly forgotten such as: packing up the work site, preparing the yard, and laying dust and floor protection. To make sure things go smoothly right out of the gate, agree with your contractor about what you will be packing up and what you expect them to move for you. It is also important to let them know what parts of your landscaping and interior need to be protected.
  8. Billing and Payments: Cash flow is an important cog in the remodeling machine. Make sure you and your contract agree on a billing and payment schedule up front.
  9. Change Orders: Unforeseen things pop up, new idea’s arise and some fixtures just don’t look as good in person. Regardless of the reason, Change Orders are a natural part of large remodels. Discuss how they will be handled at the start so you are not surprised when the first one comes along.
  10. On Going Communication: Make sure you know who to go to during construction. Will it be the Forman, sales person or lead carpenter? Talking to one person throughout the course of construction will keep the line of communication clear and make the process simpler for everyone involved.