Manager, Micromanager, or a Hands-Off Remodeler?
Adapted from an article by Laura Gaskill via Houzz
When you’re planning a remodel, there is plenty to think about. But one thing that might not be on your radar is your level of interaction with the process and, by extension, with the professionals involved. How this plays out can impact everything from the length of time a project takes to your overall satisfaction with the work. This guide will walk you through the pros and cons of three very different approaches to working with contractors and other professionals — for you to choose: as a manager, a micromanager, or a hands-off remodeler. Read on and take note of which of these styles you identify with and why!
Why being a manager can be a good thing: In a sense, as the homeowner, you are the overall manager, no matter what the project is. It’s your money and on your property where the work is happening. Even if you have an official project manager (and for nearly any remodeling project, that’s a very good idea), there is still room for you as the homeowner to act as a sort of big-picture manager. Taking care to keep good records, track your finances, and generally have a healthy sense of where things are going is part of being a responsible manager. A good manager doesn’t hide from potential challenges, communicates clearly and effectively, and voices concerns rather than letting things fester.
Drawbacks to being the manager: There’s a difference between holding up your end of the responsibilities and simply jumping in and trying to take over. Jumping in frequently to check in on how things are progressing can be perceived by your contractor as overstepping and may increase tension. Stepping in too frequently also can disrupt work and add more confusion than it resolves.
Takeaway: Clearly define your official role. Are you hiring a project manager? This could be your general contractor, a designer or an architect. If you are, it’s important to recognize that you are actually paying this person to handle the management of your team and project. If not, you are by necessity taking on the role of project manager — a very different scenario! In the (more common) case, in which you have hired a project manager, it’s important to clearly define where your role ends, and your contractor’s or designer’s role begins. It can help to sit down with your contractor before work begins to go over exactly what each party will be responsible for, and where those responsibilities might overlap.
Takeaway: Know what level of communication is reasonable. If you and your contractor have a mismatch in expectations when it comes to communications, you may feel ignored while from the contractor’s perspective, things are running smoothly, and all is normal! As a general rule, it’s not unreasonable to have a phone call returned within a day, and an email (especially if you’re asking lots of things) within several days. If you know you’re tempted to call or email your pro very frequently, it might be helpful to keep a running list of questions and concerns instead, and then set a regular day or time to check in when you can get all of your concerns heard and responded to at once.
Top Bay Area Home Remodeling Contractors
Architect: Rebecca Amato — Amato Architecture: www.amatoarchitecture.com
Contractor: Michael McCutcheon — McCutcheon Construction: www.mcbuild.com
Custom Cabinetry: Julie Holland — Stonewood Kitchen & Bath: www.stonewoodwc.com
Electrician: Phil Christman — Christman Electrical Contracting — christmanelectricalcontracting.com
Custom Furniture and Upholstery: Jeanne Henzel — Joona Fabriculture — www.joonacreates.com
Interior Design: Laura Martin Bovard — LMB Interiors — www.lmbinteriors.com
Landscape Design: Suzanne Arca — Arca Design Group — www.arcadesigngroup.com
Solar Energy: Larry Giustino — A1 Sun, Inc.
Wood Floors – Restore and Install : Mike Dunn — The Floor Show — www.thefloorshow.com