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1. Before partnering with a contractor to work on your house, consider some of the unexpected disruptions or uncomfortable circumstances that could arise between you and the contractor during the project that are worth being prepared for and having appropriate conversations about.
2. Start by doing as much research as possible on the project to try and understand the scope of the work you’re asking for. Talk to neighbors who have done similar projects, go to the home center and look at the cost of desired materials, etc. The more knowledge you have going into the project, the better informed your questions will be for the contractor.
3. To avoid “sticker shock” from a contractor quote, consider all the work required by the contractor to complete the job while they aren’t at your house. They will need to purchase and transport materials, train employees, maintain the overhead cost of their business, etc.
4. Beware the “low bid”. Usually, the low bid is missing “behind-the-scenes” work that can result in long lasting errors in the project.
5. Be prepared for weather disruptions. Some work can’t happen in the rain, snow, etc., which can exponentially delay a project.
6. Have materials for the project in mind and consider having backup materials in mind as well. If there are delays in the delivery of the material, that can also slow down the project significantly and a runner-up could save a lot of that time.
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Homeowners have a virtual truckload of questions for us on smaller projects, and we're ready to answer. Ask This Old House solves the steady stream of home improvement problems faced by our viewers—and we make house calls! Ask This Old House features some familiar faces from This Old House, including Kevin O'Connor, general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, and landscape contractor Roger Cook.
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How to Work with a Contractor | Ask This Old House