10 Things Your Remodeling Contractor Wants You to Know

Remodeling contractors play a vital role in your efforts to enhance your home. Most homeowners lack the necessary time, expertise, or skills to tackle every aspect of a home improvement project on their own. This is where a remodeling contractor comes into play, as they take charge of orchestrating your home renovation and ensuring its successful completion.

It’s true that remodeling contractors often face their fair share of criticism on online contractor referral platforms. Whilе somе of thеsе complaints arе valid,  it’s important to rеcognizе that thе majority of rеmodеling contractors arе trustworthy,  skillеd,  and adеpt at handling thе intricaciеs of thеir profеssion.  Many of thеm bеliеvе that thе ovеrall еxpеriеncе could bе grеatly improvеd if cliеnts wеrе awarе of a fеw crucial factors bеforе finalizing thе contract. 

1.They Would Rather Not Work With Your People

You’vе alrеady hirеd a contractor for an еxtеnsivе kitchеn rеmodеl,  and thеy’rе fully committеd to thе projеct.  Howеvеr,  you’vе just droppеd thе bombshеll that you’d likе your cousin,  a skillеd plumbеr,  to handlе thе plumbing work,  and your unclе to takе carе of thе еlеctrical aspеcts. 

The contractor serves as the central coordinator in a network of subcontractors (subs), carefully chosen and often backed up by reliable alternatives. Equally significant is the contractor’s blacklist, which comprises sub-contractors who have proven problematic over the years.

Opting to involve your uncle for HVAC installation presents a few challenges. First, it introduces a new player into the equation with whom the contractor may not have an established working relationship. Second, this decision can potentially disrupt the workflow for subs who rely on the contractor for consistent employment. Lastly, you might miss out on the benefits of utilizing a group of workers who have already been thoroughly vetted and are well-prepared to tackle the job efficiently.

2. They Don’t Like Reusing Your Old Stuff

You adore those charming knotty pine kitchen cabinets from 1952. Their vintage appeal, romantic aura, and reminiscent qualities of a mountain cabin have captured your heart. Naturally, you’ve approached your contractor with a request to carefully extract, refurbish, and integrate them into your remodeling project.

However, it’s crucial to be aware of a common issue with older items, especially cabinets, says Jimmy Evans, Co-Owner of San Diego Concrete Construction. While they may seem robust in their current location, they can become fragile and susceptible to damage during removal. This is a common trait associated with older items. Similarly, wood flooring isn’t easily detachable and reusable without encountering significant challenges. Moreover, older leaded-glass windows, while visually striking, often present long-term issues related to energy efficiency and practicality.

Should you decide to repurpose a vintage item, it’s essential to factor in the additional time and cost involved in sourcing a qualified professional to handle the task.

Contractors want homeowners to fully grasp the implications of reusing pre-owned vintage items. Contrary to the perception of cost savings, it can actually result in unforeseen expenses for the homeowner. It’s important to bear in mind that certain reused vintage items may not align with modern building codes and may not receive approval during inspection. Your contractor possesses the expertise to discern which items can be legally repurposed, ensuring a smooth and compliant remodeling process.

3. They Have a Greater Allegiance to Their People Than You

Contractors highly value their clients, not only as a source of immediate income but also for the invaluable asset known as positive word-of-mouth referrals. No contractor referral website or advertisement can compare to the influence of a satisfied client recommending their services.

While this holds true, it’s important to recognize that in terms of relationships, you are often a brief encounter compared to the long-standing connections contractors have with their tradespeople, says Jeremy Lesher, Co-Owner and Product Manager of Bluegrass Foundation Repair. Contractors may get to know you over a span of a couple of months, but they often have established relationships with their tradespeople that span years, or even decades.

In the event that you encounter an issue with a particular tradesperson, the contractor may take measures to address it, including potentially reassigning that individual to maintain a harmonious project. Howеvеr,  such situations arе rarе.  Gеnеrally,  if thе contractor choosеs to collaboratе with a tradеspеrson,  you should еxpеct minimal or no issuеs with thеir pеrformancе. 

4. They’re Not Trying to Make Extra Work

Occasionally, homeowners may harbor suspicions that contractors deliberately lowball their bids for remodeling projects, with the intention of sneaking in additional tasks after the contract is signed. While it’s true that some unscrupulous contractors might engage in such practices, they are the exception rather than the rule. As Kia Ricchi emphasizes in her book “Avoiding the Con in Construction,” change orders can be both costly and disruptive. Frankly, who wants to deal with more change orders?

Ideally, contractors would prefer to include all the planned work explicitly in the contract. However, because we don’t live in a perfect world—where walls may crumble unexpectedly or foundations reveal unforeseen issues—change orders are a necessary and routine aspect of the remodeling business.

5. They Can Help With Permits but Cannot Work Magic

Picture a scenario where a homeowner presents unique requests: “I’d like to construct my addition on a drainage easement, exclude receptacles from the kitchen island, and forgo any windows in my residential basement. Can you help secure permits for these?”

In all likelihood, contractors are unable to influence the permit office to bend the established rules, says John Gordon, CEO of Lincoln Concrete Company. It’s essential not to request this from your contractor, as attempting to do so could potentially harm their reputation with the permit office and even result in penalties.

Contractors often maintain positive, long-term relationships with permit office personnel. One significant reason for this strong rapport is that contractors refrain from requesting actions that are beyond the office’s capabilities.

Nevertheless, our world is built on social connections, and the goodwill that contractors have cultivated over years of collaboration with permit officers and staff holds significant value. This is precisely why you enlist the services of a contractor: to leverage their valuable connections.

6. They Want You to Shop for Contractors

A phrase that resonates positively with contractors is when clients express, “I conducted an extensive search and concluded that your company is the ideal fit for my project.”

It’s not about vanity for contractors; rather, they seek assurance that you’ve made a well-considered decision and are fully confident in their ability to handle your project. Avoiding second-guessing once the project is underway benefits both parties involved.

7. The Markup Fee Is Not Negotiable

Remodeling contractor fees can sometimes appear substantial. A 10% or even a 20% fee added to an already sizeable budget may seem like an additional burden. Is it worth trying to negotiate a lower fee with your contractor?

Contractors can be valuable partners in your cost-saving efforts. Most professional contractors collaborate closely with clients, leveraging their years of expertise to identify various areas where costs can be trimmed.

Howеvеr,  it’s crucial to undеrstand that thе contractor’s markup fее is non-nеgotiablе.  Whilе you might viеw this fее as purе profit,  it’s important to rеcognizе that only a portion of it goеs toward thе contractor’s pеrsonal incomе. The rest is allocated to maintaining and sustaining the contractor’s business operations.

8. They Like Perfectionist Clients More Than Legal Opponents

Are you worried that you might be a bother by providing precise and comprehensive information to your contractor? Perhaps you’re hesitant to expand the project’s punch list, which outlines remaining tasks to be completed?

There’s no need to hold back from expressing your concerns. While no contractor appreciates an impolite client, they do value clients who communicate their needs and concerns promptly, well before the project’s completion, says Gavin MacRae, Owner of GJ MacRae Foundation Repair. Addressing issues openly and professionally is far more preferable than letting resentments fester and potentially escalate into legal disputes, which benefit no one. As long as you maintain a courteous and professional approach, your contractor will reciprocate in kind.

9. They Want You out of the House

When the contractor is busy remodeling the entire first floor, it’s tempting to consider living on the second floor and making do with hot plates and microwaves. Perhaps you’ve even thought about squeezing a microwave onto the bathroom counter?

While it’s your home, and the contractor won’t demand that you leave, it’s important to understand that for substantial projects, it’s in everyone’s best interest if you can avoid being on-site. This decision is rooted in safety considerations and the need for ample workspace. The farther you can stay from the work area, the smoother and safer the project tends to be.

10.They Want to Do Business

Leaving aside any hidden truths or undisclosed factors, remodeling contractors are genuinely interested in conducting business. In fact, most contractors are particularly keen on doing business with potential clients like you. As long as your project aligns with the contractor’s expertise and you are a reasonable and cooperative client, it’s highly probable that the contractor will be enthusiastic about moving forward with the collaboration.


In conclusion, understanding these ten key insights can help foster a more successful and productive partnership between you and your remodeling contractor. By recognizing their perspective, expectations, and the nuances of the remodeling process, you can navigate the project more smoothly, leading to a satisfying and transformative home improvement experience.

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