Getting your home renovated can be an exhilarating experience. But be cautious and enter the situation with care because when things go wrong, they can often go very wrong. Follow this advice to avoid problems in the first place:

  1. Always Set Clear Expectations

Lay out clear expectations for the contractor of what you want as your end goal. You likely have a vision in your head of how you want things to turn out. But it’s always harder than expected to describe your vision in enough detail that the contractor fully understands what you are thinking. Make sure the contract details any specific requests or milestones you hope to have accomplished and has a general timeline of when things are to be finished.

  1. Always Document Changes

If, once the work has started, the contractor agrees to add some special feature you would like or do some extra work to finish a part of your renovation in a specific way, make sure to get those details in a writing. Going through the process of getting a written and signed change order, even if it costs you slightly more than the originally quoted price, is probably worth the effort. Often a documented change order can protect you as the home owner as much as it can protect your contractor.

  1. Don’t Be Hasty

It will be exciting as things come together to want the work finalized. Put pressure on your contractor to finish so you can get full use of your new space. When you get to this point you should remember the advice of everyone’s favorite shepherd of the forest: “Don’t be hasty.” You want to be sure all the details are finished completely. Walk through the space with your contractor to make your final punchlist as detailed as possible. Once you have the final list of things written down, you and your contractor should sign the list so everyone knows what is expected as a final product.

  1. Keep Your Expectations Reasonable

Contractors are generally good at their trade, but the world is not as perfect as Pinterest makes it look. You will likely find some elements about the finished job that aren’t picture perfect. That is entirely normal, and a part of the growing pains involved in adapting to your new space. But keep your expectations based on reality, not based on what you might have seen on HGTV.

  1. Don’t Give Up on Your Contractor Too Soon

If things are not turning out how you expected, do not immediately kick the contractor off the job and hire someone else. Depending on your contract, this could trigger an early termination clause or some other penalty and will likely void any guarantee by your contractor. Meet with your contractor. Talk with your contractor about what the problem is and try to find a way to move forward. If despite your best efforts things still are not working out, contact a lawyer and review your contract before bringing in someone else to fix the problem.

There may come a time when, even after doing all these things, you still have problems that go unresolved. The attorneys at TATE BYWATER will help you resolve the conflict, whatever it takes.


About Ben Ader
Ben joined TATE BYWATER as an associate in October 2019.  Ben is a graduate of William & Mary Law School where he worked as a Graduate Research Fellow and served on the William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review.  After law school he served as a Judicial Law Clerk with the Prince William County Circuit Court.  His legal experience includes commercial litigation representing contractors and small businesses and the focus of his practice areas also includes personal injury and domestic relations.