Should I Give My Contractor Access To My House When I Am Not Home?

hand holding house keys in front of house

Your home is usually your most prized possession. And for good reason, you’ve likely not only spend a good amount of money for that home, but you’ve also given it blood, sweat and tears. Because of this, when it comes to thinking about a remodel, homeowners can be apprehensive about letting many strange people into their house while they are away.  In some cases, for retirees or individuals who work from home it is not a concern. However, for the other 90% it is very much a concern. For large remodel projects it is nearly impossible to not give the contractor access as families cannot feasibly be around for every second of a project that might take many months to complete.

We find about 80% of homeowners allow us access via a key or code. The other 20%, we work with accordingly to ensure all are comfortable. In this article, we are going to focus on the families that cannot be home for every second of the project and some steps they can take to ensure a successful remodel.

Give a Reputable Contractor Access

Hiring a reputable contractor is the best step you can take to safeguard your home. Look at past reviews, how long they’ve been established and their presence in the community. Contractor’s such as these are by the book. That means they carry the proper insurance, have workers compensation, pay their taxes and complete background checks on their employees and subs. You can ensure your contractor is license by searching the Iowa Database here. (Tip: To find us type in “Home Worx”)

Hiring a guy off of Craiglist whose background does not exist will of course give you higher probability of problems. Granted, there are plenty of amazing people on Craigslist who offer great services but there is a greater risk of issues occurring.

Check out our article about what to look for in a contractor here for additional tips.

Lockbox / Codes

If you are concerned giving out a key, the best thing you can do is pickup a $20 lockbox at your local hardware store or ask your contractor to install one. This will allow you to stay in control of the key and ensure nobody leaves at the end of the day with the key.

The even better option is to install a programmable lock on your door or have the contractor use your garage keypad. Many of the new programmable locks are able to connect to your wi-fi and your phone. This allows you to see when people come to your house and unlock the door. As well as when they leave and lock the door. You can even can different codes to different people so you know who is at the home and when. This gives your contractor access and gives you piece of mind. The programmable lock is our preferred access method.

Secure Valuables

One of the easiest things that can be done is to remove the temptation. Valuables should be locked up, hidden, or moved to elsewhere in the house where work is not being performed.

Eliminate the Roaming

Make it clear the only areas in your house workers should be in is the actual area being worked on. There should be no reason individuals are in other parts of your home. Granted, they may need access to the utility rooms to shut off water, power, etc but otherwise people should be contained to the area work is being done.

If you find someone in another part of your house you should contact your contractor to have them deal with it. After all, it’s what you paid them for.

Change codes

Once the project is complete you should change or delete the code your contractor was using.

Remodeling Stress

Remodeling is a stressful process the way it is. By taking the above steps you can eliminate some of that stress and make for a smoother remodel.

If you are on the fence about whether to give your contractor access, we would recommend you give them access. Some may even require it. Many individuals are needed to complete a remodel and schedules are frequently fluctuating as other jobs get done sooner or later than expected. By having access to the house, it allows work to continue even when you might not be available. This means a quicker project from start to finish.

If you take the above steps you will be in for a successful remodel!

 

Preparing for Your Appointment | Things to Think About

Select the type of project:

[button style=”secondary”  href=”#row-apptprepremodel”]Remodel[/button] [button style=”secondary”  href=”#row-apptprephandyman”]Handyman[/button]

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Remodel

Review this section for some things to consider and think about prior to our appointment.

Vision / Goals

This is the softer side of your remodel, but possibly the most important. At the end of the day. you want a space that fits your everyday life style and a space you will love being in. Things to think about:

  • What is your end goal? Will you be staying in the home for the foreseeable future or selling?
  • Your lifestyle
  • Will kids or pets be in the space? (Some materials more durable than others…)
  • Budget (discussed in greater detail below)

Materials

There are so many material options on the market and the price range between them can fluctuate drastically. You don’t necessarily have to have every material you want to use figured out (and rarely does anyone) but if you have a general direction, it will help us create a more realistic proposal. Some things to think about the project may include:

  • Showers: tile or fiberglass
  • Flooring: tile, carpet, or engineered flooring
  • Counter tops: granite, quartz, solid surface, laminate, etc.
  • Decking: composite or treated lumber
  • Windows: casement or picture windows

Budget

Your budget is a big factor in your remodel. Many people do not feel comfortable discussing their budget at the initial appointment as they don’t want it to influence the contractors estimate. This is a valid concern and we have no problem if you hold these cards close to your chest at this time. However, there are some advantages if you fill us in on your budget. These include the following:

  • Generally, we have a good idea of what certain materials cost and there is large spending range across the materials. If you provide us with some indication of budget we can help you select and estimate for materials to fit within that budget early on. This will limit any surprises down the road.
  • Because there are so many different options with remodels, we want to be able to help you find the perfect fit. At times getting exactly what you want may require a larger budget; however there are ways to get you close to what you want but at a lesser cost.
  • Getting your hopes up – The absolute worst thing we could do is get your hopes up about a project and you receive our proposal and realize it is bigger than your budget allows. By filling us in on your budget early on, it will help us determine what can be done within your budget and create a realistic estimate.

Your Contractor

At the proposal phase, you are in the initial stages of gathering estimates for your projects and selecting a contractor. It is important you feel comfortable and trusting of the contractor – these are called soft skills. We won’t go into details on this item as we’ve written an entire blog post about this exact subject here.


 

Handyman

Handyman jobs are usually smaller in nature but common things to consider include:

  • Contractor Selection: Reputable and Reliable – There are many individuals out in the marketplace that claim to be able to complete this type of work. And many people would say handyman work is “easy”. However, a good handyman has to be a jack of all trades to be able to competently and efficiently complete your tasks. A great handyman is hard to come by for this reason. They have to have experience across multiple trades in order to be effective.
  • Jobs to be Completed: Many times our handyman jobs are numerous, unrelated tasks around a clients home. If possible, it is great to have a list of the projects detailed out so as not to forget any items.
  • Schedule: How soon would you like the work done?
  • Bid vs Time & Material: Would you like the work to be bid or completed at time & material? Either way, we will still want to come review most jobs prior so we can properly prepare for the job.
  • Home Access: Will you plan to be home when the work is done or will you give us a key / code to access the home?

What to look for in your contractor?

What-to-look-for-in-a-contractor

Insured

  • Obtain a copy of their liability and worker’s compensation coverage

Many contractors do not have the proper coverage to properly protect themselves or their clients. The remodeling and construction industry is a competitive marketplace and some contractors may look to be more competitive by not obtaining the proper insurance and thus having a lower cost to operate. Proper insurance and workers compensation coverage can easily add 15-20% to a contractors labor cost.

Registered

  • Check with Iowa Workforce Development to ensure your contractor is registered in the state of Iowa. You can complete the search here. (if you are searching for us type our name in as two words, Home Worx)

This is another method to ensure a contractor has the proper credentials. When a contractor initially becomes registered with the state they are required to provide documentation proving they have the proper insurance and workers compensation coverage.

Reputable

  • Check around the usual places; Facebook, Google Reviews, Houzz, Yelp, etc. to ensure your contractor consistently has positive reviews over an extended period of time.

The internet has become a great resource to easily find the reputable companies and just as easy to find the not so reputable ones. In today’s age it is critical for a business to provide superior customer service. The customer has never had so much power in terms of their voice. A negative review can be understandable as their are difficult customers but it should not be a theme in any business.

Soft Skills

  • Do you like them? It may sound funny since this is a business transaction but depending on the scope of your project you could be working with this company for a considerable length of time.

This is often overlooked in many consumer transactions but in remodeling you have to consider this as a relationship. Both sides need to make sure they are the right fit for each other. Find a contractor who listens to your ideas and works hard to ensure the finished product is what you want.

Responsive

  • Do they respond to you in an adequate time frame?

Look for this early in the contractor selection process. If they are slow to return your initial call that could be a sign of things to comes.

Of course there are so many other things to consider in your selection process. However, ff you find contractors that pass the muster with these items we feel they are likely a good fit for your remodel.