5 Tips for Dealing with Contractors

It’s that time of the year when contractors start to come out of the woodwork, random projects or emergencies pop-up and we’re at the mercy of depending on someone else coming into our home to help us complete vital projects.  To be honest, we hate working with contractors, they all seem to be the same in one way or the other and try to avoid whenever possible… but at the same time as handy as we are, there are a few projects where we just draw the line. So here are some pro tips for dealing with contractors!
Contractor Tips - the bee life
Ask Questions. It’s important to ask questions before you commit; How much? What is this price inclusive of? Are there any extra material costs? What are payment expectations and timing? How far out are you scheduling, how long will this take? And then it’s important to ask questions during the work; How’s it going? Have you run into any roadblocks? Why are you doing that?

Set Expectations. One of the things we’re often at the mercy of when it comes to projects is times and dates – often being inconvenienced during the work week or the weekend waiting around for untimely workers to show up. So not only it it important to set expectations for the work being done, but also set expectations around schedules. We’ve had contractors stay as late as 9:30PM on a Friday night… which was completely longer than they initially said and we were held captive, but also our faults for not asking or speaking up sooner.

Get It in Writing. This may be a no brainer, but it’s easy when you know someone or have a family friend contractor to want to make a commitment via phone or in person. But! These projects can often lead to unexpected things and it’s not uncommon for extra materials, additional time and added costs to creep in. Having the price, expectations, and deliverables in writing helps for peace of mind and something to point back to if things get shaken up.

Don’t Assume. Sometimes when you’re working with a contractor, they don’t aways do the work but bring in guys who do – it’s important to run through everything with the workers as well, even if the contractor already did. We ran into that with our patio this past year – they were going to completely miss a HUGE portion of the project and I called it out… they totally wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t mention it and then A LOT of rework and probably additional money would’ve been needed.

Create A Dialogue. Don’t be afraid to check-in with these contractors as work is being done, it may even be beneficial to set the president of checking in at the start of the day (What are you planning to accomplish today?) and then before they leave (Did you accomplish X, Y, Z? When will you be back?)  B and I often tip-toe around not wanting to hover or get in the way, but guess what! It’s your house, your money, and you can’t be afraid to offend someone, ask questions, or simply check-in on the process – because at the end of the day you’re living with the end product.

Working with contractors and home renovation projects in general is exhausting, expensive and always seems to take longer than originally planned – so that is why it’s crucial to set up the project with these tips to help with some of the headaches!

Image Sources: Bathroom | Kitchen 

DIY – Upgraded Built-in’s

One of my spring projects was to give a simple upgrade to our living room built-in’s that bookend our fireplace.  I planned to do this with textured wall-paper, that I have used in a few other spots around the house like our dining room built-in’s, our stair-backs on our stairs leading to our master, and even in our DIY bar that started out in our apartment. Overkill? No, surprisingly this is the most subtle upgrade you could do to these tiny spaces for a big impact. Not to mention it’s extremely affordable ($20  for 56 sq.ft.) and super easy to do.

Since we live in a century home, I like to build off the history of the home and add to it when possible, this smaller ‘tin ceiling’ patterned print is the perfect accent to give a face lift without completely giving it an overhaul and taking it into a different era. Textured Wallpaper - Lowes - the bee life

Before:

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After about 30-minutes of leisurely watching eNews (learning all about Lemonade) and measuring, cutting, soaking and putting into place, boom! Instant upgrade. All while dinner was cooking in the oven.

After:

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DSCN1988With the doors closed, and if the lightening is just right, you can hardly notice – but on the flip-side, if the lighting is just right, you can also see how pretty this added touch is.  Sadly, I ran out of paper and was only able to get one side done, I completely underestimated the amount I had left over from the stairs in order to complete these built-ins. But it was a good start, and like I said – easy, not very time intensive, and pretty straight forward for $20 a roll.

 

DIY – Reading Side Table

As I have mentioned in a few previous posts, I was on a little mission to try and find some “trash treasures” on garbage day, older pieces that just needed some TLC – well I found one that I picked up back in October and finally finished this piece up. It was a side table with no drawers, a few torn spots but relatively in good shape. See for yourself. . .

I had initially wanted to spray paint it a bright color and find some baskets to go in the inside (but didn’t really have a complete game plan for the inside).  I’m glad we waited a bit for a few of the other pieces in our master suite to wrap up, because I ended up sanding this down and just re-staining it to match the tops of our night stands (plus I like staining pieces WAYY more than painting or spray painting). So I sanded this bad boy down, because we had gotten the top a little messier than we we had found it (oops!) and gave it a few coats of stain.  I found my inside solution one day at Target near the front $1 bins – I grabbed some adhesive paper for $3 a roll – and gave it a shot. Well I scored, two rolls later this baby was brought back to life.

IMG_0933IMG_0934IMG_0935The basket was a gift from Kates (filled with wine) that I happen to try in one of the openings and it worked out perfectly! We did have to buy some thin plywood that we ended up cutting and gluing on the top and bottom shelf’s to make them level, since there was a dip down. So other than the nominal cost of that, the only other expense was the $6 for the adhesive paper, since we already had the stain and poly. I love the way it came out, especially with the subtle pattern and pop of color!

Happy Friday!