4 Tips for Working with Contractors

As interior designers, it's important for us to have contractors we trust and love to work with. If we all operate as a team on our projects, we'll be less likely to have costly problems crop up, and much more likely to have a great experience. And we all know there are contractors who are terrific to work with, and some that are challenging. The key is to remember that we have a part to play in making things run more smoothly on a build team, too, so here are my 4 tips for working with contractors!

1. Be Detail Oriented

It's critical that the details are completely spelled out on a project, especially if the contractor also needs that information. Having a project binder that provides every single bit of info is incredibly important. You want all the specs up to date and in easy to understand sheets, like paint schedules, fixture selections, flooring finishes, and more. And if there are every any changes, it's key that all of the binders are updated at the same time to keep everyone on the same page. The devil really is in the details when you want things to run smoothly.

2. Be a Good Partner

Think about the subs and team members that you love to work with. The best team members are on time, stick to a budget, and do what they say they will. You need to be the type of partner that YOU want to work with. Be sure you and your employees are always on top of your responsibilities on the project. Show up for scheduled walkthroughs, stick to your deadlines, and be available for meetings and phone calls. It's a great way to build trust between you and the contractor.

3. Communicate Often

Team meetings are critical for keeping a project running smoothly, but they're only one part of a great communication plan. Send weekly emails to your clients AND to the contractors. Be sure all project binders are up to date and that you've informed the contractor of any changes the client wants. I also make it a point that the contractor and I have an open door policy of communication for any critical decisions that need to be made or challenges that we need to discuss. And sometimes, you may have to talk about issues you're having with the contractor or one of the subs. It's best to address this head-on and unemotionally to keep things from spiraling out of control. 

4. Be a Team Player

When it comes to a contractor, you need to remember that you're part of the build team together. So be a team player when it comes to working together. Ask for ideas and opinions from the contractor in their areas of expertise - don't just dictate everything. And if there are mistakes made by you or your employees, take responsibility and offer solutions. Never try to throw someone else under the bus in front of the client; no one wants to work with someone who would do that. 

To keep things running smoothly on your build team, download my FREE Team Meeting Notes template! Remember to share those notes, and any decisions made during meetings, with the contractor and everyone else on the team!

Check out more design business tips and tricks

Selling Your Design: The First Critical Touchpoints

Making the Most of Client Touchpoints

How Communication Can Solve Any Project Challenge

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