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Time and Schedule

You probably have a pretty busy life, and could be thinking- how is this project going to fit into my tight schedule? You should figure 2-4 hours a week to answer questions, review ongoing work, monitor payments, perhaps buy certain items, visit showrooms and attend meetings. It’s in everyone’s interest to move intentionally in a calm but well-paced manner. Develop and adhere to a schedule, meet regularly- telephone, zoom or in-person: weekly or biweekly-not monthly. You will need to keep one another accountable and synchronized.

Decisions

You will be called upon to make many decisions- some about appearance, some about utility, some financial and some logistical. Get all the information you can glean before making a decision (Sounds easy- it is not). Almost nothing can harm a project more that indecision and related delays. So it would be my suggestion to review your options in a timely manner and decide. Communicate your decision, or let people know when a decision will be coming, use self-imposed or project-imposed deadlines to keep things moving. Make sure related parties know about the decision in a timely manner.

Payments

Most projects have a construction contract, and in that contract are the terms for payment: amounts, interval, acceptable methods and related work covered. Don’t fool around, pay on time so the contractor can pay his subcontractors and vendors. Payments that do not occur when they are supposed to will often create problems later. When you make a payment, insist on getting a receipt , acknowledgement or lien waiver that provides proof of payment.

It’s also critical to withhold payment for work that does not comply with the project requirements- and provide reasons for withholding payment.

Procurement of Material

Many savvy owners understand that contractors markup the materials that they purchase. Accordingly, owners often buy many fixtures like lighting sconces or tiles to avoid the contractor markup. BUT the owner is usually responsible for procuring the material and assuring the material get to the construction site on time and in working order. (i.e. a broken refrigerator is not the contractor’s problem)

Monitoring

Use good judgment to review and stop by the construction site to witness what’s ongoing. Your interest and presence shows the builders that you care and are watchful. Bringing the guys some cold drinks on a hot day can go a long way in cementing a spirit of cooperation.

Of course, not everyone has the ability to go to the jobsite. So it would be wise to hire or otherwise select someone that can act as your proxy to help make decisions, make payments and watch over the progress.

Attitude

When the contractors see that their work is being appreciated and reviewed , it gives all a sense of purpose and pride which in turn helps create a positive atmosphere .

This results in more quality work getting done promptly.

When progress is slow or of poor quality, the best response is to play the “disappointed uncle”. Where the owner appeals to the image of the successful contractor that always does great work on time, and that this situation must be an exception and “know” they can do better. Be calm and listen carefully,,,many factors may go into a delay. Be ready to offer help and set expectations that are realistic and achievable.

When things go south, it can happen quickly and capriciously. Keep your radar tuned in. Nip problems early by communicating frequently-and LISTENING.

Article by Steven Secon