Sometimes it’s hard to know which questions to ask and how to talk to a professional/contractor you’ve hired to do a job.
Especially when you consider that you’re often stressed about work or money when you’re looking to fix something or remodel.
What questions need to be asked? How do you know you’re hiring the right person? What do you do? Are they taking advantage of you?
You don’t want to be rude, but you don’t want to be a pushover.
First off, step out of the “fear” space. Relax.
Remember your contractor isn’t an “issue” to be dealt with, but a person who’s trying to make a living too.
Here are a few tips on how to talk to your contractor while maintaining graciousness and composure. So even if you’re struggling with a contractor, you’ll still be able to communicate your needs and get the job done how you need without losing composure.
Issue: Hiring An Ethical Contractor
How You Feel: I want an honest, hardworking, and ethical professional working on my home.
How To Handle It: Instead of going into the hiring process expecting to be robbed blind, do a lot of research and make sure you review plenty of references and reviews.
Doing your homework before hiring can take away a lot of apprehension. Comparing several quotes from contractors can also help you get the best deal from the best professional. Companies like Angie’s List, Home Advisor, and Home Professionals can take out a lot of apprehension and will help connect you to reputable pros in your area. Every little bit helps right?
Issue: Asking For A Lower Price/Striking A Deal
How You Feel: I think that price is a little high. This other contractor said they’d do it for much less. Are they trying to rip me off?
How To Handle It: Instead of getting angry or accusing the contractor of trying to rip you off, ask “how flexible are you on that price?” or “what can we do to get that price lowered?”.
Just because a contractor’s quote is higher than another doesn’t automatically mean the lower bid is better. Sometimes disreputable contractors will cut corners to make their quotes impossibly low. That’s not something you want, and that’s where research into the job, average quotes, and contractor reputation will help you.
Instead of attacking a contractor or arguing, simply asking about a lower price will allow the contractor to explain why their prices are what they are, and where you could possibly save money.
If you still don’t feel right about it, simply get a few more quotes from different contractors. Compare the results and go with the best overall option.
Issue: Better Communication
How You Feel: I don’t like how hard it is to get a hold of them. I don’t feel like they are listening to me or respect me.
How To Handle It: Good communication is so important. And it’s important you feel that your contractor is listening to you and knows what you want.
The professional may feel that they are doing just that. Which is why, if you feel there isn’t good communication, you should say so.
You might say something like, “I don’t feel like you’re really hearing what I’m saying, and I’m concerned our communications isn’t as good as it could be. How can I reach you better? I’d appreciate a text back to let me know you got my call.” Or something like that.
Issue: A Cleaner Work Area
How You Feel: Boy this area is a disaster. Why can’t they keep a cleaner work area?
How To Handle It: Don’t verbally attack the contracting professional. That’s just going to create a hostile work environment. If you’re interested in keeping a cleaner workspace, ask the contractor how they can help keep the area clean.
Your contractor may have a different tolerance to clutter. Simply making them aware you’d like the area left cleaner when they clean up for the night can go a long way. If it’s still not up to your standards, give specific suggestions like “I’d like these tools put away every night” or “I’d like the place swept up every night.”
Communicating exactly what you mean without aggression can go a long way while keeping good feelings intact.
Issues: Dissatisfied With The Work
How You Feel: I really don’t like how they did this. It doesn’t look good. It’s not what I wanted.
How To Handle It: Before you assume you’ve hired a bad contractor or blow your top, approach your contractor in a calm way. Tell them, “I’m concerned with the quality of “X”. I don’t think it matches what we agree on. How can we get this done right?”
Sometimes crappy work happens, and we end up regretting our hiring choices. Hopefully, your research into hiring a pro will prevent this. And it does go a long way in protecting your interests. But if the problem is serious enough you may consider suing. But that should be your last step.
That being said, simply communicating your thoughts and what you’d like to the contractor can go a long way and help you get the job done much faster than a longer, legal route.
Maintaining Professionalism And Good Communication
You’ll notice that, in these examples, you are using “I” statements that are less attacking. This reduces hostility and makes negotiations and communication much better. Keeping your cool and treating your contractor with respect makes it much more likely they’ll do the same back to you.
Ideally, there won’t be any problems. But if there are, it’s smarter to take a calm approach and assume there’s been a miscommunication rather than jumping to the worst possible conclusion first.