10 Things to Discuss With Your Contractor Before Work Starts
Not so fast! Before work begins, make sure you and your contractor are on the same page about how things will go. This often takes the form of a pre-construction meeting, which may be most useful when held at your home and at least one week ahead of construction — particularly if you have furniture or other belongings to move.
Here are a few of the most important things to cover at this meeting:
Make sure you also communicate when your trash or recycling pickup takes place. You don’t want your contractor to block the road or alley with equipment on those days.
Ask how information about the project will be communicated to you. This could take the form of an email summary every day or every once in a while, a daily or weekly meeting, or updates posted to an online project management system. If you need communication in a way the contractor had not planned on, speak up and he or she may be able to provide it to you.
We had one project where the owners didn’t always get to talk to each other in the evening, so they requested that we send a daily email covering what was accomplished and what was happening the next day. They both knew they could count on that email to find out what was happening, even if they weren’t able to debrief each other.
What to look for in a contractor’s contract
Temporary walls might have a door or lock — discuss what you prefer. This also gives you a clear idea of how much you need to move out. In larger projects, you may want to remove pictures and fragile items on walls shared with the construction area, as they may be rattled during demolition and framing.
Walking around the house will also give you the opportunity to talk about where to place the Sani-Can or Dumpster, where material can be staged, and which plants and trees should be protected. Expect to have to re-sod or restore areas where material is staged and workers are walking.
Location of utility shutoffs. On your walkabout make sure your contractor knows where all of the utility controls are: water, gas and electrical panel. They are concealed in some homes. Also, let your contractor know if there are appliances or circuits that cannot be turned off, like a deep freezer, pool pump or fish tank.
If you have pets and intend to keep them on-site during construction, talk with your contractor about how and where you will confine them. Your contractor is unlikely to want to take on the responsibility for caring for and keeping track of your pet, so make sure you have a plan. Construction noise and disruption can be stressful for animals, so consider options for where your pets will stay.