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How to work with Contractors- Part 1

When making the move towards doing updates on your property it is intimidating to think about having to deal with contracted trade people. There are many horror stories, lots of them justified, and the thought of tackling this is the biggest reason that most people chose not to. All contractors are not bad news, but there are things to watch out for.

Follow the guidelines below to put yourself in the driver’s seat when making hiring choices and doing the project management.

When considering Price Points is it $5,000 or  $50,000?

This is will be relative to what you haven’t done on your property over the years. The fact is that you do pay for upgrades on your home. This happens by actually doing upgrades or by lowering your price enough to sell. Either way you pay.

Getting written estimates is a good place to start. Verbal estimates seem to mysteriously increase, so always get it in writing!

Get multiple quotes and ask them to be as detailed as possible so you can carefully review them later.


Level of Quality in Product

You do get what you pay for. Reputable companies will typically have been “seen around” town through various long standing advertising. You need to always ask for references from past clients and also Google their personal name and the company name to see if anything pops up.

Do not hire the cheaper contractors simply because you think it’s better to save money. You will not save money. It usually ALWAYS ends up costing you more in the mistakes they make, the issues they create and the headaches you endure. Pay for quality and you will get it.

This doesn’t mean you have to spend over the top amounts to upgrade but you do have to spend something, so don’t choose the lowest price. Go for the middle ground if you are only basing your decision on price.


Contractor scheduling

This is a tricky balancing act even for those who do it every day. Most contractors are not large corporations, but are running self -employed businesses and therefore they have to run the company, market and also do the work. If this is the case, you can expect their estimated timeline for completion to be twice the guess.

This is because they typically have other projects on the go and you are not their main focus. They have to go out to see new clients during working on your house and so the hours they give you are usually broken up.

This actually makes everything take longer because they have to re-focus themselves each time they get to your house and it takes away from progress momentum.

Self- employed contractors are also busy answering their phone and putting out “fires” from other jobs they have on the go. This can and does cause frustration for a Seller who is updating to get on the market in a set time line.

Give yourself plenty of time to get this work done because it always takes longer than they tell you. Self -employed contractors do have some benefits as they are more flexible with hours and pricing, they are usually trying to build a good business reputation and do not want to get a bad name, so are more likely to fix issues to the best of their ability.

Trust your judgment during the first interview and do not be swayed by flashy talk or pushy sales. If a contractor is pushing you to decide right now, say no. There are many options for you hire and you can afford to wait to make the right choice.


Type of property

This will determine the level of upgrades you choose. A starter home does not need granite counters or top of the line hardwood flooring. Do not be up sold in such a case.

Contractors are there to “install only” not determine your product choice or price points you need to spend. However if you have a million dollar home, it needs to be finished with appropriate levels of quality or it will destroy your chances of selling. Choose upgrades that reflect the price point of the asking price.

I can help you with that as that is part of my Pre-Reno consulting service, or when listing your home with me, this is a discussion we can have.


Market Expectations

What are other homes listed in your price range doing? You will need to at least offer that much or take it to the next level and offer more. If your competitors are not upgraded, then you absolutely should  be, as it will secure a faster offer and the best price on the block.

If your competitors are upgraded then you need to be also upgraded at least to that degree or better, to even stand a chance at selling. Today’s buyers are telling the sellers what they want in a home so listen…and you will win.


Budget VS. Return

The ROI on upgrades varies and is also dependent on your neighborhood values. Your budget of course will determine how much you can invest into your sale, so plan a budget that takes in account an overall impact on the property, not just one or two rooms.

It is better to paint a whole house and put new floors throughout, than to just gut and update a couple of bathrooms. Choose your budget to cover all your bases and consider that investing now will prevent future price reductions, so you are actually saving money.

Keep in mind every broken item, damaged wall, crooked cabinet door, etc. will remove dollars off your offers. If your property looks broken down, buyers will want to get it for a deal since they have to fix it themselves. So your offer from them will be less than you hoped for.


Do lots of interviews with contractors. At least 3 each. Spend a few days doing this and ask lots of questions. Searching the internet beforehand to learn what to ask would give you an advantage.

So make sure you are informed before they step through your door. If you are alone in this process, have a trusted friend there to be a support. It is better to have someone there with you to keep you on track and it will help prevent being swayed by pushy sales tactics.

No shows EQUALS no 2nd chances.…if a contractor is a no show for your first appointment, then do not give them a second chance. This is a good indicator of the level of service they will provide you if they are missing their first appointment.

For more information on how to stage your own home and do it right, get your own copy of my eBook


Jill Turgeon

REALTOR® @  One Percent Realty & RESA Award Winning Home Stager

& Owner of Simply Irresistible Interiors


Offering her optional “Stage and Sell Real Estate” services to her listing clients, she can strategize with you on the best way to set your home apart for selling


*This website in whole, is not intended to solicit listings that are currently under contract to other brokerages.

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