Working with contractors is often cited as one of the trickiest parts of getting a project finished. No matter how you envision your work, you’ll need help to do it, and managing your contractors is key. Here are a few measures you can take to make sure that you and your contractor stay happy, on time, and on budget.

  1. Check references. I know—the drudgery! Checking references won’t be the most exciting part of your process, but you’ll thank yourself for putting in that work. Even better: ask your peers. If you have a friend or associate who does similar work, ask them who they recommend.
  2. Check the BBB. Again, not the most fun you’ll have. But it’s much more fun than getting in bed with a contractor who will burden your project.
  3. Shop Around. If you’re new to working with contractors, it’s always a good idea to get several quotes on the work you want to do. Think of it as a your way of keeping everyone honest. If you meet 5 contractors and all but one give you similar quotes, you know who to think twice about. Why should a low estimate be a red flag for you? Simple. Contractors make mistakes too, and sometimes they miscalculate what they are able to accomplish. Extra advice: I like to verify the size of my contractor’s crew. Contract work, like any other independent, is often be feast or famine. You want to make sure your contractor has the capacity to do work well AND on time.
  4. Scope the work well. Whether you’re a contractor or a developer, the scope of work is a necessary and guiding document for the work ahead. Be careful and collaborative with your contractor to ensure that your plan is feasible, comfortable, and well understood. I would suggest drawing up a document for you both to sign in advance of any work.
  5. Check the Paperwork. This seems simple enough, but it’s easy to overlook for that very reason. Like you, contractors are required to possess a number of insurances, permits, and licenses not just to work on your property, but to work on any property. Avoid unnecessary stalls in your flip by checking that your contractor has everything they need to begin work.
  6. Pay in installments. Typically, I like to pay my contractors in three even installments. The first installment covers supplies and materials. The second covers rough inspection, if applicable. The third payment comes after the project is 100% completed. Paying in increments keeps you and your contractor present and engaged in the work.
  7. Be kind and clear. Any developer or flipper can tell you that complications are unavoidable. Sometimes it’s the budget. Sometimes it’s the timeline. Sometimes, it’s simply the working relationship. Keep a cool head no matter what. I approach every contractor I work with like a member of my team. Even when it’s time to have a tough conversation, it’s in your best interest to treat your contractors with respect. Always compliment good work. Always critique less-than-good work in a motivating and kind manner.