Ask almost anyone who has managed a construction project and they’ll recount a long list of frustrating events, from permit issues to weather and delivery delays. Oftentimes the villain of this horror story is a contractor who did shoddy work, didn’t complete the job, or had an attitude that made working with them highly unpleasant – sometimes all of the above. Questions about missed deadlines or other problems are met with vague answers or go ignored altogether. This is bad enough when you’re the homeowner and far worse when you’re the property manager and caught between the negligent contractor and an unhappy client(s). You may even find yourself wrangling with the homeowners’ association and prickly neighbors complaining about noise and the backhoe sitting on the front lawn for months. Here are some ways you can nip problems in the bud, minimize frustration, and avoid litigation with an estate management platform for a construction project.
- Be Picky About the Contractor. One would think this is a no-brainer, and yet for many it is neglected, at the project manager’s peril. When choosing the right person to do the work, don’t just rely on one person’s recommendation, as their positive experience may have involved a smaller, simpler job or occurred when the contractor wasn’t that busy. Be sure to check with at least a few clients who worked with the contractor on similar jobs, and ask about the quality of their work as well as the responsiveness to texts/calls, time management skills, and approach to addressing issues.
- Build a Relationship. Take the time to get to know your contractor early in the process – even if it’s just making small talk about their families or favorite types of projects. First, it will just make the experience more pleasant overall. Second, even the most irresponsible or unprofessional people are less likely to “ghost” someone they have a genuine rapport with. Also, when you do have a problem, approach them with respect rather than penalizing them for your past experiences. Most contractors, including the difficult ones, are not intending to be so; in fact, they are likely under a great deal of stress trying to juggle other projects. A little understanding on your part may go a long way.
- Put a System in Place. Set the project up for success by using digital tools that facilitate organization and communication. An estate management platform for a construction project like EstateSpace allows to you manage the entire project from your smartphone, including blueprints, photos of the progress, and work schedules that you upload and share with your contractor and others involved with the project. Everyone can then make updates, as well as chat about the work using the secure messaging feature. Is a delivery going to be late? Is the contractor going to be short-staffed on a particular day? They can let you know in real-time so you are not left wondering what is going in, which is the most maddening thing of all.
Every construction project will have some element of frustration, and while you can’t anticipate or eliminate everything that can go wrong, you do have some control over the extent to which it hijacks your life. When it comes to contractors, a little extra effort – and using the right tools – at the outset can help you choose the right team, build a healthy working relationship, and set the strong boundaries needed for a streamlined and more efficient process.