Selecting The Right Contractors
“Beyond the age of information is the age of choices.”- Charles Eames
Choose Your Partners Wisely
Being vigilant at the beginning in aligning yourself with contractors you trust and businesses that are willing to help you achieve success in your home remodel project – will drastically reduce your stress, the financial pressures and your enjoyment of the finished product.
Selecting the right contractor and, specifically, tile contractor, is absolutely key in ensuring that your tile is installed correctly and that your project is as stress-free as possible. Our sales staff are often asked to refer contractors and as we work with a lot of tile contractors; this is definitely a service that we can provide during a visit to one of our stores. However, we simply provide good referrals but it is still up to you to select the right contractor and this is based upon more than cost.
When a contractor provides you a quote, they will usually discuss timelines and cost but there is more to consider than just that. Lets go through a few important things to consider,
Project Scope and Responsibility
It is important to discuss the project scope and make sure that you have an agreement in writing as to what is considered in-scope for the project. Prior to meeting with your contractor carefully consider what you need done and if possible, include inspirational pictures in your discussions (even include these in your project scope document) with the contractor so that there is no confusion as to what you expect the finished project to look like.
If you have multiple contractors on-site during your project (which is most likely the case), it is important to discuss who will be responsible for which part and how the tasks will be coordinated. For example, if you have a plumber, electrician and tile contractor (very common scenario) then the plumber and electrician will need to do certain tasks
- Prior to the tile contractor starting,
- Possibly sometime during the tile installation, and
- At the end, when the tile is completely installed
This means that someone will need to coordinate the tasks so that at no point is anyone standing around waiting for someone else. If this happens, your costs may escalate and/or your project may get delayed as contractors may start to take on other jobs to stay busy and they may not be available as and when you need them.
If you do choose to engage a general contractor, and/or interior designer, they may take on this coordination responsibility but this still needs to be discussed and agreed (in writing ideally!!)
We recommend that for every project, a list of contact names, contact numbers and responsibilities is written down, printed out and posted at your job site/house, for everyone to see.
This way if your tile contractor needs to get hold of your plumber, they can do this directly without having to wait on you. Just be aware that
Try to agree a total project cost as opposed to an hourly cost for time & materials. The contractor will build in a little buffer when quoting this way (especially if they need to pick up your tile and coordinate with other contractors) but this will reduce your stress and ensure that you maintain control over your budget. Knowing your total costs is really important!
Of course, agreeing a ‘project cost’ is only useful if you agree a detailed, written and signed project scope.
As a rule of thumb, your costs will be a little higher if you select larger size/format tile, and/or you want to lay a more complicated tile pattern. Also, if your floor is not 100% level, your tile contractor may need to do a little extra to correct this prior to laying the tile.
Getting a time estimate from your contractor is very important as it will not only help you to plan the other tasks in your remodel but will also set an expectation for you. As a rule of thumb, I would add 25% extra on any schedule given to you by your contractor. This does not mean that all tile contractors are bad at keeping to their communicated timeframes but inevitably there will be things that come up during your project and these will eat into your timelines – things like unforeseen plumbing, electrical or general repairs.
By setting your expectations correctly at the start will ensure that you plan accordingly and that you reduce that stressful rush near the end of your project.
Your tile contractor wants to complete your project as quickly as you do – especially if you agree an overall total cost (and not an hourly cost) – after all, the quicker he finishes your project the faster he can start a new project.
As a final point, I would recommend setting time milestones on your tiling project i.e. bathroom 1 floor should be complete by end of week 1, shower should take 3 days to complete and be done by xxx date….etc. This way you will immediately notice time delays occurring during your project and you can update/re-arrange other remodel tasks – this will also help to reduce the overall stress from your remodel and even potentially save you money as you wont end up with other contractors waiting around idly.
This is a seriously overlooked part of your remodel project!
I believe that it is very important to discuss cleanliness with your contractor prior to starting your remodel. After all this is your house and you will be far happier if a contractor cleans up after themselves every day, ensures that areas not part of the remodel are covered & protected and rubbish is not left lying around.
The last thing you want is having rodents, critters and insects moving in while you are renovating.
Rough Material Cost
When discussing your project costs with your potential contractor, make sure that you remember to discuss the rough material costs.
There are a lot of material options available, for example:
Deck mud, hardi-board and/or metal lath
Shower niches, benches, and seating
Finishing pieces, like Schluter-System profiles
Grout, especially if you would like a stain-resistant, low-maintenance and mildew-resistant grout like TEC Powergrout
I would recommend that you discuss the material options with your San Diego Marble & Tile sales person and your contractor; and then purchase your rough materials at the same time as your purchase the tile. This way you get to look, feel and select your products prior and the contractor can pick up everything needed for the tile job at one place and at one time. This should reduce your overall cost.
Some contractors have very specific rough material preferences and this could mean that they include the material costs in their quote. If this is the case then it is very important to discuss what is included and excluded from the price quote.
The last thing that any of like are surprises especially when it is related to an additional cost at the end of your remodel project.
As a rule of thumb – anything that is visible and seen at the end of the tiling project (i.e. grout, profiles etc.), should be your decision, you should select the best/optimum product and could be included/excluded in your quote. Anything that is used as installation material to build, fix or lay your tile, should be the decision of the tile contractor and is something that could be included or excluded in your quote
Remember that the contractor should use a process and materials that they are comfortable with , as they are expected to be the experts and they are expected to warranty the installation (see next section)
This is a very important part of your remodel or build project. There are 2 components of warranty that needs to be considered – the materials warranty and the labor warranty.
If you do encounter an issue after your project is completed, the manufacturer of the product will try and prove that the material was not installed correctly and the contractor will try to prove that the material was faulty. Luckily there is a process to handle this but it assumes that certain things are in place, otherwise there is simply no warranty and you will be left with the bill of repairing or replacing.
Lets run through a few things to check with your contractor before even starting your project,
- Ask the contractor about his warranty on the work that he will do and make sure that you have this in writing
- Use a licensed and registered contractor (this is a must and may cost you a little more then finding a guy on a street corner but you will be thankful you did – throughout your project and afterwards)
- Make sure that the contractor you select has insurance and if possible, ask for a copy of his policy/coverage.
In regards to the second component, the materials warranty, San Diego Marble & Tile will be able to advise the warranty provided on all products you purchase from them – rough materials, tools and tiles. There are certain requirements that need to be adhered to in order to be covered but these are standard and any licensed contractor would adhere to these requirements as part of their tile installation.
In order to understand the process to claim against a warranty, if you are unfortunate and encounter issues after installation.
Handling Changes to Project Scope
We are all human and it is inevitable that at some point during your project you will change your mind and decide to do something different. As a result it is important to discuss with your contractors on how changes to project scope will be handled. The best and most likely scenario is that your contractor will simply quote for the additional effort/work required and you will end up agreeing a new price and timeframe.
Once you understand the additional cost for the change you can then decide,
- Whether it is worth doing?
- Whether it is cheaper or easier to do it a later time?
- How much time will be added to your overall project?
Just remember, once the contractor has ripped out your bathroom and you have a gaping hole in your roof — you will not be in a good position to negotiate on price so definitely try and limit changes to your agreed project scope.
The Last 10% – Baseboards & Project Completion
So you are almost there — most of your project is done but the contractors have all disappeared…..this is the situation that so many of our customers encounter and to be honest there is no way to avoid this UNLESS
A. You ensure that you include all the final bits & pieces in your project scope/plan and
B. You only pay your contractors once they have completed the work 100%.
Some common things that you should not forget to include on your final checklist,
- Base boards installed i.e. where the tile meets wall
- Door casings around doors and sliding doors
- Vent replacements for central heating systems
- Clean up of all old/used materials from your property