Working on your home can be stressful if you aren’t fully prepared for the process, and there’s a lot to consider before renovations even get started. Most contractors what to perform their best, but something things get lost in translation. Besides determining a proper budget, there are a few more specific things that can only be learned with experience.
To ensure that you don’t have to deal with the issues that can arise when renovating your house, we’re going to discuss some of the most common problems that arise when working with contractors. By the end of this guide, you’ll be prepared to deal with them fairly and get the best possible results out of your renovations.

Forgetting to Check for Documentation

The first thing that you’ll want to do when working with contractors is to ensure that they have all of the right documentation in order. If a contractor doesn’t have any of the required documentation, then they could possibly be unqualified for the task, or even completely unlicensed.
Of course, the status of your contractor’s license will rarely be the issue. You’ll also want to ensure that your contractor has all of the right forms of insurance, including workers’ compensation. If they aren’t properly insured, then you can end up on the line for medical bills that you had nothing to do with.

Picking the Lowest Bid

If you’re trying to get your renovations done on a budget, then you may be tempted to pick the lowest bid from amongst the available contractors. Unfortunately, the lowest bid will often result in poor-quality work that won’t look anywhere near as good as what you’re hoping for.
In the worst case, you may end up having to redo the renovations just because of how badly they were done the first time around. If this is the case, then you’ll end up paying twice as much for the same job that could have been done by a less bare-bones bid the first time around.

Not Getting Lien Waivers

While this may sound complicated, a lien waiver is simply an agreement that shows that you’ve paid for all the work that your contractor has done. Most reputable contractors will provide you with this when your work is done, but if they fail to give you one, then you need to request waivers for each of the jobs.
If you fail to get a lien waiver, then there is nothing stopping a contractor for coming after you in court for any unpaid fees, whether or not their case is valid. Of course, while they can still go after you, there’s no guarantee that their case will stand, but you’re still better off avoiding the hassle in the first place.

Failing to Properly Describe What You Want

Keep in mind that if you’re working with contractors for the first time, even you can end up making some mistakes. The most frequent mistake that homeowners make when they work with contractors is failing to provide them with all of the info that they need to get the job done the right way.
Before you start renovating, try and write out exactly what you want, as precisely as possible. If you’re skilled at sketching, you can even make a rough sketch of the results that you want out of your renovations. This will make things easier on you as well as the contractors working on your home.

Paying Too Large of a Down Payment

You’ll also want to avoid paying a huge down payment on the work because that can usually hint towards some issues going on behind the scenes. For a regular job, the typical max down payment will be around 10%, and you typically won’t want to pay more unless it’s a specialized, high-risk job.
A large down payment can suggest that a contractor doesn’t have the funds to get the job done without the down payment, and there’s no guarantee that there won’t be cost overruns. If your contractor is cutting their margins too close, then that can result in problems for you.

stressed-contractor-smlNot Getting Agreements in Written Form

Trusting oral agreements is the quickest way to put yourself in an unfavorable position when you’re working with contractors. The reason that they’re called contractors is because they work for you under contract, so every little thing that you expect from them needs to be written in one.
Of course, we’re not saying that every word you say to your contractor needs to be included in a contract, but if there are any deviations or alterations from the original contract, they need to be noted. This will ensure that everything works out smoothly for both parties involved.

Not Having Checked the Contractor’s Previous Jobs

If you want to have an idea of the results that you’ll get when the work is done, take a look at jobs that the contractor has finished already. You will often be able to find these job sites through their references, and if you’re lucky, you may even be able to visit a site that the contractors are currently working on.
If you want to see how they work, courteously ask your contractor whether you can visit their work site at a certain time and get a look for yourself. Keep in mind that the owner of the home may refuse to allow other people to visit the worksite, so if you get declined, a contractor doesn’t necessarily have something to hide.

Failing to Check Contractor References

Finally, you’ll also want to be sure to thoroughly check your contractor’s references. Give their previous clients a call and ask them how the renovations went. See if the results are still holding up after some time has passed. This can help you figure out what to expect in the end.


If you keep these eight tips in mind when working with a contractor, then you shouldn’t have any problems beyond the routine issues associated with renovations. Communication between you and the contractor will be clear and your job will be completed to your expectations.

If you’re ready to start your makeover, you can schedule a free design consultation by clicking HERE.