By Jesse Morado
As exciting, challenging, and yes sometimes stressful as remodeling can be, getting into the blame game can really put the skids on a remodeling project.
All of us have been getting a taste of how the blame game plays out on the nightly news over the last couple of months and it’s frustrating when the players won’t take charge or accept responsibility.
In the remodeling relationship between contractor and client, it’s hard to keep the project moving in a positive direction when the parties are pointing the finger at each other. Unrealistic expectations, weak communication, or lack of effective project management can be contributors to the “he said she said”, “I didn’t know – you’re the expert” or the “it’s your fault” finger pointing that can arise during a remodeling project.
Some say conflict is healthy but not this kind.  Here are some recommendations to avoid getting into the blame game on your project:

  • Share your expectations with the contractor and understand those of the contractor before the project starts. If you’re unclear about something – ask and get a resolution.
  • Review your scope of work closely with your contractor and identify any areas where more detail could be provided to minimize confusion and reduce the opportunity for conflict.
  • Make sure the deliverables are clearly stated for both you and your contractor so you are not doing the “I thought you had that” shuffle.
  • Identify a set of standards that the work will be performed to so there is no argument about methodology or quality of installation. If your contractor doesn’t reference any standards in his or her scope, reference those provided by manufacturers or professional associations that pertain to your project.
  • Be engaged and participate in the project. After all it is your home – make time to meet face to face with your contractor to review work as it occurs and to review projects timeline.
  • When mistakes occur – if it’s yours, take responsibility, if it’s the contractors – avoid being critical and don’t over react. Notify your project manager or contractor right away of the problem and request the error be addressed before more work takes place.
  • If your contractor fails to respond to your request in a timely manner, document your issue and forward it in writing through an email. Refer him or her back to the terms of your construction agreement, scope of work, or construction standards that relates with the error. Always communicate in writing to avoid the “he said she saids”.
  • Lastly, should a dispute arise between you and the contractor that you just can’t get past, try mediating your differences with an independent third party neutral before choosing to litigate.  It’s quicker and more cost effective.

Remodeling isn’t perfect and mistakes will occur on your project. Understanding this upfront and setting up a communication process that works best for you and your contractor to reduce the blame game will contribute to a quality project with little stress. Before you pull the trigger on your project ensure you are working with an experienced professional contractor who values you as a customer and has a track record for doing what he or she says.
Jesse Morado is President of Renovation Coach, Inc. a consulting firm providing remodeling guidance and risk management services for homeowners. He also writes a daily blog for GetProContractors.com and is the current Education Committee Chair for the National Association of the Remodeling Industry and an FHA 203k Rehab Consultant.  He can be reached at renovationcoach.com.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.