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Contractors have feelings too, so success depends on mutual trust and communicating clearly right from the start

The BIG day has arrived. The builder is coming to begin work, so let’s try to ensure this turns into your dream come true rather than your worst nightmare. 

I firmly believe you get out of your builder what you put in. Treat him/her the way you would treat any other supplier of a service and you will be pleasantly surprised at the end result. Yes, even builders have feelings.

Like most things in today’s ­modern world, the success of your project will hinge on proper ­communication. It is important to set up the right channels for passing on instructions and understanding the chain of command on both sides.

1. Your builder should arrive with his team and introduce them all to you, pointing out who is in charge on site and what their respective roles should be.
2. You should then agree who you must communicate with on site. Some contractors prefer everything be channelled through them, with no communication between the staff on site and the client. That’s fine if his cellphone is always on and he is available when needed.

Trust is important so give your builders a chance to prove themselves. Picture: Supplied
3. Put everything in writing. However you decide to communicate, buy a triplicate book and put everything in writing. This will save time and money on both sides in the long run.
4. Delegate someone in charge at home. It is also important for the contractor and his team to know who is in charge on your side. It is not fair if he gets instructions from more than one person. Decide who is driving the project from your side and set up weekly meetings at which all instructions can be verified and agreed.
5. Mutual trust is also important between the parties. You have gone through a long process to choose your builder and he must be given a chance to prove himself.
While I was still contracting, I often received calls from the site from my men, complaining they were being watched or told how to do things, usually by a retired relative who knew a little about building. 
Please don’t let this happen, unless you agreed upfront with the builder that Mr X is your “Clerk of Works” and you have delegated authority to him.

Handy Mac, aka Don MacAlister, is our expert on household DIY issues. If you have a question for him, please
send it to or SMS only to 082 446 3859. Find Don on FB:
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