Hiring & Working with a Contractor


When you hire a contractor to work on your home, you’re placing an enormous amount of trust on them.

 

You want your contractor to look out for your best interests, and to not cut corners and leave you with a ticking time bomb of poorly installed tile, plumbing, electrical work, roofing, etc. An improper installation can lead to fire damage, water damage, mold and mildew growth, and weaken the structural strength of your house. 

 

These are some tips we've accumulated through our many years working with homeowners and contractors alike. We've heard both horror stories and glowing reviews, and want to share our knowledge with you.


Ask for Referrals

A contractor may show you pictures of finished projects, but pictures don’t tell the whole story. Previous customers can tell you what working with the contractor was like.

 

Example Questions: Was he ever late? Overbearing? Did he keep inflating the budget? Did he listen to the homeowners’ needs?

 

Don’t be afraid to ask your contractor for a list of referrals you can call. If they have a recently completed project, even better; the homeowner's memory of the remodel will be fresh in their mind. If it’s an older remodel, you can ask if any problems have popped up; if so, did the homeowner contact the contractor? How did the contractor deal with these problems?

Is Your Contractor Afraid of Change?

The Tile Council of North America is constantly improving their standards as new and better tile products, grout and thinset formulas, and installation products are developed. What was acceptable 20, 10, or even 5 years ago may not be good enough now (remember asbestos?).

 

We’ve had a great number of customers return a superior product (stain-resistant grout, waterproof shower wall boards, etc.) because their contractor was unfamiliar with it and refused to learn about it.

 

If your contractor is willing to learn, we can set him up with training seminars and certification courses; Wedi can even arrange to send a technical expert out to guide a contractor through his first installation of the Wedi shower system for free!

 

If you've researched and selected a superior project and the contractor refuses to learn about or use it, then your contractor choice should change, not your product choice... it's like taking a car into a mechanic who tells you, "I don't work on THAT make and model; you should get a different car, then I'll work on it." 

You Usually Get What You Pay For

When it comes to tile installers, this old adage is pretty accurate. There's a world of difference between the fly-by-night contractor you found on Craigslist who's willing to tile your bathroom for a flat $300 fee and the certified installer who'd want to inspect the space and base his price on your pattern and materials.

 

The money you save on the initial install will be greatly outweighed by the costs you'll endure when the install fails in a few months or years and you have to redo everything. 

Supervise your Contractor During Installation

It’s good to have a basic understanding of what is involved with a project so that if any red flags go up, you can spot them. Even simple things like pattern and layout can be lost in translation (when you said "offset pattern" you meant an organic-looking 1/3 stagger, not the 50/50 brick offset that the contractor just finished installing).

 

Example: If your contractor is trying to convince you that you don’t need a waterproof barrier under your shower wall tile, red flag!

 

Helpful Hint: If you have a question about proper installation practices, the Tile Council of North America has the answer.

 

Anecdote: A regular customer of ours had to deal with flood damage in her mother’s home. The insurance company hired a flood damage restoration company, who in turn hired a tile installer to re-tile the bathroom. Our customer had installed her own tile in the past under our guidance, and was familiar with proper setting techniques. She was shocked to find that the contractor had installed the floor and shower tiles without grout lines! Knowing that grout lines were necessary for hygiene and contraction & expansion, she complained to the installer, who offered to drill holes between the tiles to “fix” the problem. Refusing this cheap and shoddy “fix,” she demanded that he re-do the tile: properly, and under her supervision.

Visit our list of recommended installers! We also recommend Angie's List and Houzz for reviews on local contractors. 

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