Contractor Communication

Communicating with your contractor is very important. Now that we have the blatantly obvious out of the way, here's a few things that have been working for us.


We all "hate" email, right? Well, it still has a place and time. Even with constant access to email via little devices we carry around all day, your contractor may not actually reply to anything until they have access to a larger device or just after the "work day." Ask if email is a good route for communication. If email isn't, ask what is because you'll probably have to exchange lots of PDFs (plans, product spec sheets, and photos).


Just like with regular folks, some people hate texting and you should figure out if your contractor is one of those people. Texting is fine for a few photos here and there, but unless your contractor is one of them fancy millennials, probably not good for long conversations.


Most smart phones today allow three way calling. Use it. Or if two of you are in the same place, use the speaker. Get everybody in on the conversation.

Daily Communication

We're fortunate enough to be able to drop by the house every day at lunch. This has worked out great as we get updates on what happened, what's going to happen, and we get to answer any questions that may have popped up during the day. This has really cut down on delays so far, but we know they'll happen just do to subcontractor availability and material shipping delays. C'est la vie.

Finding a Contractor for your Remodel

If you don't already have a contractor you're probably scared about what it takes to find a contractor. The number of contractor horror stories out there seem to make finding a dentist downright enjoyable. Hopefully you go to the dentist more than you need a professional contractor to work on your house, but to each their own...

I have to admit that we've been very lucky to have found a contractor we enjoy working with. As with most things that look like luck, there's a lot of small decisions that lead up to you being lucky.

1. Check Your Network

Just like when you're looking for a new dentist/vet/mechanic, you have to ask around. Who do you know in your area that's gone through a remodel and survived? Would they work with that person/team/company again? Using their hindsight, what questions do they wish they would have asked before work started?

If you don't have a personal network to check, you'll have to fall back to the professional networks such as HomeAdvisor (note: the company I work for has a professional relationship with HomeAdvisor, but that's just a link to their home page and not some kind of referral link) and Angie's List.

Our story started with a friend who recommended an architect who recommended a contractor. Actually it started with a tree falling on our house...but that's for another post.

2. Ask Lots of Questions

Do you know exactly what you want down to the smallest detail? Some contractors love that, while others will go nuts because they won't feel like that have any flexibility in tackling the inevitable challenges that will spring up. We had a good general idea of what we wanted, but we also wanted an expert opinion to help guide our thinking, and even just call out decisions which might be a complete disaster. Ask them how they like to communicate. Ask them how and when they want to get paid. Ask them where they anticipate overruns might be. Ask them how much will be subcontracted. Ask them what they'll need from you to make the project successful.

If you don't feel like you have a partner, you might want to keep searching.

3. Start Small

Do you have any projects that could act as an audition? We were lucky that we needed to get an existing room up to code and that was right in our current contractor's wheel house. It was great to get a sense of what working with them on a larger project would be like. If you can't find a starter project, is it possible to break up your big project? This could lead scheduling delays, but so will getting the wrong contractor. Pro're gonna get delays.

This is by no means the only way to find a contractor, it's just something that worked for us and no you can't have his name until our project is done.

The Great Berry Remodel

I was going to put a span of years in the title, but I know people would just argue over it. How long has this remodel been going on? That's honestly a tough question to answer. We bought the house knowing we would want to make changes, but that wasn't financially feasible right after we bought the house. But it has begun, and this is the least from my point of view.

Even though this has been very slow to happen, along the way we did lots of small things. Usually only getting them half done. Like when we removed the above ground pool that the previous owner had dug a huge hole for. Yes, they tried to make an above ground pool an in-ground pool. No, it didn't work well. Yes, we had a huge pit in our back yard for years. We did have to do a small project to get the converted garage up to code so that it could be counted as living space so that we could get enough funds from a refinance to cover the scope of what we wanted to undertake.

But again, all that has happened and we're kicking off. Here's the "before" video.