Over the past few months I have been the surrogate watch dog for a friend who had to be out of town throughout an extensive house renovation. Part of that renovation included four bathrooms and kitchen counters in addition to other things like an extended deck with fire pit, mold containment etc. The house is in a great town where inflated real estate values allow for choices one cannot always make. Those choices include the level of contractor that is hired, the extent of the renovation and finally, the material choices that can be made. In some cases, none of this is important if budget is not an issue or the plan is to stay in the house for an extended period of time (more than 20 years).

I interviewed the contractor, Curt Cullin of Blue Line Construction, Stamford, CT, in my attempt to identify specific conditions that ensure a successful outcome for a project, large or small. Curt says his vision is to have a customer today and a friend tomorrow. That means, a commitment at the outset, agreed upon by both parties, to have an open line of communication on a regularly scheduled basis. If this cannot be achieved, he believes that disagreement may occur over interpretation of conversations often had on the fly.

RULE #1; avoid conflict by speaking regularly and with clarity.  Take notes!

A great project starts and ends with a great detailed plan. That plan must be thoroughly reviewed by all parties and signed. It is here that construction anomalies can be identified and easily corrected on paper.

RULE #2: a simple written one page contract with payment schedule, a project time line and agreed upon deliverables such as having materials on site as scheduled and making final decisions should be included.

RULE #3: prepare a budget with plans for contingencies. There are so many places where the best laid plans can get derailed. For example; an open wall reveals hidden structural failures or plumbing installed 50 years ago is a corroding, framing is out of level or rotten wood is hidden behind walls. Here is

RULE #4 plays a significant role. An open and honest relationship and frequent communication can mitigate the stress of revealing problems and paying for them.

A note from my point of view; the contractor should be  your ally throughout the project. Selecting the right contractor should be your highest priority before you even think about putting pen to paper. Seek referrals, interview thoroughly, check their on time delivery, and finally visit completed jobs to confirm that the work meets your standards. i like to look in their trucks. Messy truck, messy contractor. A neat truck indicates the contractor takes good car of his tools and takes pride in his work. Every contractor starts a project with the best intentions. Only by staying involved, checking the work and doing your part can the best projects be realized.

Curt stressed that contractors need CLARITY in the drawings and in the client vision. This ultimately yields a successful project and a satisfied client.

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