Finding it hard to decode what your contractor is saying? Most contractors aren’t exactly known for their stellar communication skills. He says one thing, and you assume another. Sometimes what they say seems completely obvious to them, but makes no sense to you. And many contractors will give you completely vague replies to difficult questions, which will leave you wondering if he really knows what he's doing!
So, if you want to get the most from your client-contractor relationship, we'd like to offer you some help so you can understand a few common contractor phrases that will minimise the hassle and ensure a smooth project execution.
He Says – I will let you know when I can start the work. It will most probably be next week. Translation: He is completely booked with projects and it's best that you check up with him on the Monday morning of the following week to ensure that he and his crew will show up. "Next week" doesn’t necessarily mean Monday... it could just as easily mean Thursday or even Saturday of the next week. Fix on a specific date so as to avoid any confusion; this will also enable you to figure your own schedule so you can be around when required.
He Says – We can manage this job easily in a couple of days. Translation: By “we”, he means his crew or team and not necessarily him alone. He probably has another big project that he handles and his job might just be organising and supervising his various teams. Ensure you know who exactly will be working on your project. If it’s his team, make sure you meet them beforehand and also suggest that he spend some time every day on your site to oversee things.
He Says – I am not sure of this design, so I will do it my way. Translation: He is not sure of what you want but has a vague idea. Question him about what his ‘method’ will be and what the final result will look like. If the contractor has years of experience, chances are he will be more comfortable with his own method, rather than trying something new for the first time on your job. Now that could be a recipe for disaster! At the end, you need to be satisfied with the work. It may not be exactly how you want it if the design is in question, but it could end up being better or worse. A contractor is free to work in whatever method they want, provided the end result is what you want.
He Says – These plans need tweaking because of technical reasons. Translation: Changes are inevitable on site. Often, projects have to be adjusted, but it is best to discuss the final result and the additional costs associated with the changes before proceeding with the work. Otherwise, a contractor could quote anything for the said changes, to make up for any parts of your project that he underestimated. Ask for changes in the budget before he begins with alterations. Once again, while changes are part and parcel of the job, the final outcome should be to your liking, so make sure you clarify all your doubts.
He Says – I will try to do my best. Translation: Even if he is an excellent, skilled and experienced contractor, that sentence should have you thinking twice. He is warning you in advance that the final result may fall short on your expectations. Question yourself – have you added too much to his scope of work without extending his deadline? Are you expecting him to finish a more complex project than what he is used to? Is your project unrealistic within that budget? Reevaluate your idea and selction to make sure you're fully willing to accept slight alterations from your original plan, just in case.