4 Steps to Start Your Construction Process Off on the Right Foot

Clough Construction Owner Deanne Clough and Homeowner Cortney Roesch elaborate on the process of establishing a good general contractor/homeowner relationship.

Starting a construction process can be the headache of all headaches. It involves destruction to your home, literally. The process can be expensive, time-consuming and frustrating – but the end result is worth it all.

The biggest factor of a positive home renovation experience is the relationship the homeowner builds with the general contractor. After all, this is the person that will be coming in and out of your home day after day, making sure everything is moving along as planned. So, what are the key factors to making sure that the relationship is strong and trust-filled? ESTATENVY connected with Clough Construction owner Deanne Clough and new homeowner Cortney Roesch to get details on how to make sure this relationship gets started on a positive note.

1. Use the Bidding Process as a Dress Rehearsal

The bidding process is typically where it all begins. The homeowner meets with the general contractor, describes the project and the general contractor provides a detailed summary of proposed costs. The bids should be accurate and delivered in a timely matter so the homeowner can get started on the project.

“The bidding process is a good indicator of accuracy, consistency, trustworthiness and follow through,” said Clough. “As a homeowner, when I hire someone, I am looking for clarity in their bids and making sure they aren’t overstating their offering. I suggest all homeowners do the same when they are trying to find their general contractor partner.”

If a general contractor takes weeks and weeks to get numbers back, and they are not clear what each estimate represents, it should be a red flag to the homeowner.

2. Take Advantage of Past Customers

As a first-time homeowner, Roesch didn’t know where to begin with her general contractor selection, so she leaned on references.

“I asked friends who were new homeowners who they used and ultimately inquired with the ones with good reviews,” said Roesch. “I felt more comfortable going with someone who I knew my friends found responsive and trustworthy, instead of taking a shot in the dark on someone I knew nothing about.”

Clough seconds this notion that homeowners should speak with past customers before moving forward with a general contractor.

“I always suggest calling past customers and visiting at least one job site if possible,” said Clough. “It’s awesome to go and see their completed projects in person and imagine the type of work that they did during the process.”

3. Develop a Thorough Timeline and Communicate Hiccups

Because of the excitement and angst that comes along with a new home renovation, developing a timeline is extremely important. Because ultimately, a homeowner that doesn’t get their dream renovation in a timely manner, is an unhappy homeowner.

“I was extremely impressed with the detailed timeline that my general contractor developed at the beginning of the condo buildout,” said Roesch. “Yes, things happened that delayed it a few days here and there, but he always communicated that to me which made a big difference. I never felt out of the loop on anything.”

Clough, on the contractor side, always communicates any delays in the timeline.

“I typically try to overstate my timeline, and finish things faster than projected,” said Clough. “If anything, we try to over-communicate what is going inside the home to the homeowner. We know it takes a lot of trust to let someone inside of your home and trust that they are working every day. This is where communication comes into play.”

4. Establish Trust on Both Ends

When it comes to any service where a stranger is coming into your home, trust is important. When those strangers are coming into your home with a team of other strangers and are causing destruction, trust is even more important. If you don’t trust that your general contractor is being honest, following through on promises or has your best intentions, a construction project can go totally awry.

“I have to say, I was hesitant at first because I knew I would be at work when the majority of construction was taking place,” said Roesch. “How was I supposed to know they were doing what they were saying? When I first met with the construction team, the general contractor showed me the certificates of insurance and all of the positive reviews, and I felt a lot more comfortable with the process.”

Clough suggests taking the first meeting at the contractor’s office.

“Visit their office space,” Clough said. “When you walk into their office, see how they conduct themselves. Are they neat and tidy? You can get a better idea how they will treat your home by looking how they treat their own space.”

Due to the nature of construction, it is rarely going to be a process that is stress-free. Things happen, especially unforeseen things, that cause both anxiety and headaches. While these types of things cannot always be avoided, homeowners do have the opportunity to build a strong relationship with the general contractor before the process begins. Once that solid relationship is established, the homeowner is not going through the process alone and can enjoy the process.