Real Estate

Homeowner 101: Why you need to get along with your contractor

By Jeff Nilluka

In every relationship there are struggles and high points — yes, even with your contractor.

When homeowners are handing out large amounts of money for work they want done, it tends to put a lot of stress on the marriage and the contractor relationship. The contractor is there to do the work agreed upon and to use all the wonderful materials the homeowners select.

We all know with money involved, we tend to get highly stressed and sometimes need to take out the frustration. That frustration sometimes gets passed down to the contractor. Thankfully, most contractors know this and are able help the homeowners through it all. The contractors can vision the end result and they know how happy the homeowner will be in the end. So getting along with your contractor from the beginning and understanding one another is key.

If you get three different bids from three different licensed contractors as most suggest, and they are within a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars of each other, your initial meeting may come into play when deciding who to choose … and the difference in price may not be the deciding factor. Which contractors were on time? Did they respond to your call within a timely manner? Did the contractor have a good sense of humor? A good understanding of the job at hand? Is he/she able to answer all your questions you have, knows what questions to ask you? Will they be playing music on the jobsite? Is it something you can handle?

If both homeowners work outside of the house, you need to feel comfortable giving a key to your contractor. This is, of course, a little terrifying and why homeowners need to do their homework. Check the Contractors State License Board and make sure they are indeed licensed and ask them about their subcontractors. Is your contractor going to be there every morning to open up and at the end of the day to lock up if you’re not home? Getting along and trusting your contractor go hand in hand.

Do you have animals? This is something to talk about as well. On some jobsites the contractor leaves the doors or garage open since they will be going in and out constantly. You want to make sure you trust that your contractor stays aware of any animals you have. Have the animals meet the contractor too if they will be around them everyday.

I truly enjoy dogs and cats and generally by the end of the job I’m best friends with the animals. A dog or cat is an extension of the family and should be treated just the same by the contractor. When you had your first meeting did any of the contractors go out of their way to meet your pets? Maybe that is a big point for you and worth considering when going to hire the right one.

You can always ask for references and call some of their past clients. Don’t be afraid to ask them about how they got along with their contractor. Did they keep the jobsite clean, did they call in sick a lot, were the subcontractors respectful of the home as well? This is a huge commitment for both so ask away!

Jeff Nilluka is a licensed contractor No. 875781 and the owner of Cambrian Construction in the El Dorado County. He and his wife Jenelle can be reached by their website at or 916-458-1771.


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