Get Multiple Estimates
The only way to ensure you’re getting a competitive bid is to get multiple estimates. If you feel like a bid is too high, it’s often much more effective & efficient to get another bid, rather than try to negotiate with the original tradesman. Sometimes, time doesn’t allow multiple bids. In this case, you can make the decision that lost time isn’t worth the savings that multiple bids would allow.
Establish a Payment Schedule
It’s reasonable for any tradesman to ask for a draw to begin work. On smaller jobs that require very little materials, tradesmen will often forego an initial draw. On mid-size jobs, a 33% to 50% deposit is standard. On larger jobs, draws are often broken into 3-5 draws as the project nears completion.
Provide a Detailed Description of the Work
It’s important to remember that tradesmen aren’t designers. You should provide a detailed description of the work you would like performed that includes specific product types & installation methods. If you have questions over what specifics to provide, you can ask your agent for help.
Establish the Scope of Work & Price in Writing
Written contracts prevent miscommunication & arguments. On smaller jobs, a simple text or email will usually suffice. However, on larger jobs, it’s best to have a written scope of work either confirmed in email or signed by both parties. The scope of work should establish the payment schedule, a detailed description of work, the materials used on the project, & who is responsible for which material costs.
Never Pay a Tradesman a Greater % of the Total than They Have Completed
The worst case scenario for any project is that you’ve paid a tradesman for the entire job, but they’ve only completed half. Make sure to pay no more than the % of the job the tradesman has completed. This maintains your leverage position & keeps the tradesman motivated to continue working.
Provide a Detailed Punch List for Completion
When it’s time to wrap up the project, both you & your tradesman want it done as soon as possible. A succinct & detailed punch list communicates exactly what needs to be done & provides a reference point to verify the job is done.
Don’t Pay the Final Draw Until Work is 100% Complete
It’s tempting to cut the final check prior to punch list completion & tradesmen will often ask you to do this. It’s best to maintain your leverage position & pay out the final draw only after you’ve confirmed that all work is 100% complete.
Pay the Final Draw Quickly When the Work is Complete
After you’ve confirmed the work is complete, pay out quickly. It doesn’t cost you any more to pay quickly, so you should do so after you’ve confirmed the work is complete. This helps maintain a great relationship with your tradesman, so they’ll want to work for you again, and it helps them stay motivated to complete any warranty issues that might come up.