How to Survive a Home Renovation-Part 3
Communication has been defined as the exchange or imparting of information or news. It also includes the method of exchanging that information from phone or computers or smoke signals. I through that in. But I think you get the point. It's sharing information between two parties in whatever form necessary. Communication has also been designated as one of the pain points in a home renovation for home owners and contractors.
Home Owners have reported that their Contractor never answers his phone or never calls them back. At the end of the project, they complain that it isn't what they wanted. Or that the Contractor didn't listen.
Contractors often complain that the home owner doesn't understand that he can't do a certain upgrade due to budget or structural constraints. "I told them that wasn't going to work" is a common frustration. You also hear I can't be answering my phone all the time when I am building a wall or installing plumbing. They call me all the time is a common frustration.
Some simple steps can go a long way at establishing the lines of communication, keeping them open, and avoiding misuderstandings along the way.
First, a written contract or agreement with even the small details is a must. Having it in writting protects both sides from any differences of opinion when it comes to the scope of the project. It could be the difference in the home owner expecting a fully fuctioning island with electrical outlets and getting an island that is just for looks.
Second, identify the way that communication will be handled. Does the home owner prefer a phone call, text, emails, or snail mail? Is the General Contractor the one the home owner should call or is there a Project Manager that has been designated as the go-between? If you as the GC don't have capacity to answer phone calls or emails, delegate that to a person cabable of assisting. And if you promise to call back by end of day, call back by end of day even if you don't have an answer.
Third, as the home owner if you have a concern as the project progresses, communicate then. Don't wait until it is too late or when it will cost more time/money to rectify the issue. For the Contractor, if an issue arises, by reaching out as soon as possible to explain how it will effect the project structurally or monetarily, you will gain the trust of the home owner. There will be no surprises when they do the walk through and no "hidden" costs when it comes time to pay up.
Simply put the way to solve the communication problem is to communicate and it does takes two to communicate effectively. There are so many ways to exchange and share information these days that there really isn't an excuse for poor communication on either side. But it is all the more important for the General Contractor. Being known as a Contractor that doesn't communicate isn't a great way to run a business. In this day of social media and instant sharing of information, you can be sure an unhappy client will share the unpleasant experience with more than a few people. Your reputation as a Contractor can rest soley on one client. One bad experience is all it takes in this day and age. Being communicative goes hand in hand with being seen as being dependable. Interestingly, being dependable leads us right into part 4 of our series "Surviving a Home Renovation-Dependability".