8 Things | Contractors Wish Homeowners Understood


Renovations make a tonne of sense. From increasing the value of the property to turning a house into a home, the impacts are enormous. Plus, a homeowner can sit on their backside and let the builder do the majority of the work. It’s a no-brainer then, right? No, not exactly.The problem with a home renovation is the number of variables. One minute, everything may be going to plan, and the next the whole project could be in jeopardy.

Hiring a quality contractor is an excellent way to limit the damage, but they can only do so much. For a renovation to go without a hitch, you have to pull your weight too. Builders constantly berate their clients behind their back for the following things. If you can keep them in mind, the project may be a success. But, there are no guarantees in this industry.

#1: Inflexible schedule
As a homeowner, it is easy to see why this is irksome. A contractor says they can complete a job within a specific time frame and then reneges on their promise. If you did that at work, there would be raised voices and consequences to deal with afterwards. The difference between an office job and a renovation is an unforeseen circumstance. Yes, a builder will provide a realistic timeframe yet something may pop up out of the blue. Usually, the estimate is given without viewing the property. So, it isn’t uncommon for a problem to arise which wasn’t considered before. Remember that contractors are juggling many balls at one time while spinning plates. Getting on their back about being an hour or two behind schedule, therefore, is counterproductive. When a builder begins to take liberties that is the time to be firm. If the concerns are legitimate, however, it’s best to cut them some slack.

#2: Can’t work every minute of every day
There is no doubt some people in the industry have ruined it for others. If you have experienced the work of a cowboy builder, you will view the trade with suspicion. Honestly, that is fine because it encourages good, logical decision-making. No one makes compromises with people they don’t trust. However, just because a team downs tools and takes a ten-minute break doesn’t mean they are pulling the wool over your eyes. There isn’t an industry where an employee works every minute of every day without an interruption. Frankly, it’s illegal! Builders tend to take more breaks because the work is strenuous and back-breaking. Again, if they are stood around with hands in pocket, it’s a problem. But, if they are having lunch at midday, there’s no reason to crack the whip.

#3: Not all houses are liveable
Hopefully, you will never have to experience moving out while the project is completed. For one thing, it’s stressful as it turns your life upside down until you can develop a routine. Secondly, it costs a hell of a lot of money. Realistic alternatives include moving into a hotel, getting a rental house or living in a caravan. Yes, lots of people have lived in a static home on their drive and lots more will do so in the future! Sadly, it’s something homeowners have to consider before they sign on the dotted line. A renovation may only include a brush and a tin of paint, yet it could also mean tearing the house down. Not only will it resemble a bomb site but you will prolong the project by getting in the way of the contractor. Depending on the scale of the job, you and your family may have to move out for the foreseeable future. It’s not nice, so think about it thoroughly before you agree to any deal.

#4: Strict budgets
You go to a host of different contractors and ask for a quote. They give you an estimate and the price is similar regardless of the company. Then, you decide this is how much the overall cost will be and begin to save money. Does the scenario sound about right? It shouldn’t because it’s a sure-fire way to lose money and, potentially, end up in debt. Remember that an estimate is only an educated guess and guesses are not set in stone. During the process, the builder may come back and say X and Y are going to cost more. Your first emotion will be anger but it may not be justified. If they can show you the increased costs in materials, for example, there is no defence. To get the job done, you have to cover their costs. Contractors, quality ones anyway, usually tell their customers to have a contingency fund. By saving an extra five to ten percent on top, there shouldn’t be any financial issues.

#5: Appliance reliance
Modern families tend to live in modern homes with all the latest gadgets and gizmos. When the contractors are not in town, it’s a comfortable way to live life. However, things change when a man in a hard hat has to turn off the gas and electricity. All of a sudden, it’s like being sent back in time. There is no running water, no oven to cook food, and no way to pass the time. Of course, homeowners panic and start freaking out. “What am I going to do?!” Well, a builder would suggest investing in non-electrical appliances. To begin with, some things still work, such as the hob. So, cooking isn’t off the table. Then, battery-powered devices should pick up the slack. For example, a battery lamp or a torch should be able to illuminate a room. Finally, stove heaters will provide warmth in the autumn and winter months. For water, there is nothing you can do but by bottles. Living like this won’t be easy but may be necessary.

#6: Unrealistic dreams
The whole point of hiring a team of builders is to create a dream home. You know? The one which you have wanted since being a little child. The property which makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. The house that is above all the others on the market. Unfortunately, not every aspect or feature will be transferable. It depends on the type of property, your budget, and the structure of the house. A spiral staircase, for example, could reduce the structural integrity of the ceiling. What contractors hate is customers that don’t listen. They can explain in no uncertain terms why it isn’t feasible yet the person will assume their lying. Sorry, but some dreams are just unattainable. You can try another company and see if they have a different opinion, but most firms are on the same page. Accepting that specific features are beyond your reach is a necessary evil.

#7: Garden ignorance
Let’s face it – the property is the main feature. The garden is lovely but only a bonus. Still, a dream home has to have all the trimmings and this is why plants are seeded and flowers bloomed. Typically, a bed of roses isn’t going to make a difference to a contracting company. As long as they don’t get in the way, you can choose whichever flowers you want! However, the big additions do grab their attention. Does the idea of growing a tree in the back garden appeal? If so, there are foundation issues to consider beforehand. A tree is a force of nature which will uproot anything in its path. Seeing it is hard because it happens underground, but pavements get the treatment all of the time. The same applies to the property’s foundations. If the tree is too close to the property, it will rip the foundations apart and cause structural damage. And, this type of damage is the most expensive to repair. Gardeners must think before they plant.

#8: Inspections are a scam
No, they are not! Yes, an inspection will add a mandatory couple of hundred pounds to the price. And, there is a chance it may not discover anything of note. So, to most homeowners, it’s a waste of money. The reality is far different in the eyes of a builder. An inspection is a sure-fire way to ensure there are zero surprises further down the line. Whether it reveals a problem isn’t the point. The point is that an independent expert looks at the flaws and diagnoses them on the spot. A damp patch may not seem significant to you, but you never know what is going on under the surface. Rather than seeing it as a scam, you should try and see the bigger picture. It’s money worth spending to understand the property better. Yes, even if there is nothing to report.

As the renovation involves your house, it is tempting to think you are in control. To a degree, you are because you pay the money and the contractor does the job. However, it’s vital to remember that they are experts with an extensive knowledge base. Listening and communicating with a builder is essential for the final result.

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