10 Ways to Be a Better Customer

Want your project to run smoothly?  Here are some things you can do.

  1. Be Prepared.  The old Boy Scout motto rings true here.  Builders and trade contractors really do enjoy looking at potential projects, but please be courteous of their time.  If you just aren’t ready to move forward on your building project yet, say so up front so you don't waste anybody's time.
  2. Hire a consultant. If you’re not ready to move forward or you just need suggestions, hire a builder as a consultant.
  3. Ask lots of questions. If you don't understand something, ask.
  4. Listen to the experts.  It’s not their first rodeo.  A good builder knows the business and has seen it before.  He can help you figure out solutions to your problems.
  5. Be flexible. You might start out with one idea in mind, but your  budget, the city code requirements, and the materials and necessary techniques might change your mind.
  6. Don’t watch too much TV.  Just because you saw it on cable TV doesn’t mean it will work in your situation.  Those TV shows go through a lot of editing to pare them down to 22.5 minutes --  there are lots of decisions and steps along the way that you don’t get to see.
  7. Don’t ask for competitive bids. This is the worst way to get the best value for a project.  When you ask for a bid, you're telling the builder he's in a competitive situation.  He will now try to be the "low-baller" on the project, and you've given him control of the materials and techniques.  See my blog post on Budget-Driven Design.
  8. Stay away from allowances.  There really are very few times when allowance pricing needs to be used before you begin construction.  Since a decision needs to be made on an item, wouldn’t it be better to decide up front and know the price going in?
  9. Be decisive. Be willing to make decisions once presented with the facts. When it comes to selecting materials or making a critical decision, the ability to act quickly will keep your project on track.
  10. Follow upand say thanks. Please let the builder know whether or not you're interested in his services.  They do their best to follow up on all leads and interviews.  They're big boys and understand if you don’t want to use them, just let them know.  And, by the way, a well meant thank you or compliment can go a long way.