How to Communicate Effectively During Your Construction Project

Happy general contractor at his work table.

Congratulations! Your new home construction or remodeling project is underway. Below are a few tips on how to be a great client and partner with your general contractor.

This article, originally published in Stroll Ledgeview, was written by Chet Lamers for the residents of Ledgeview. We loved it so much we wanted to share it with our other Stroll readers nationwide. Learn more about Stroll by finding your nearest magazine here.

Have you ever heard the metaphor, “time is money?“

The idea is time has value associated with it. One can "spend" their time, and one can "waste" their time. This metaphor rings especially true – for engaging with a construction project.

“Spending” Your Time Wisely
  • Timely communication keeps the project moving. Responding to your general contractor in a timely manner can help to keep your project on schedule. Generally, this communication is intended to confirm alignment on small but important details of your project.
  • Confirm your finish selections and then stick to them. Changes can lead to delays. More than ever, material lead times are extending. What seems like a simple change could delay subsequent work on the project schedule. Ultimately, it could push back the completion date.
  • Visiting the construction site periodically. Be mindful. Your general contractor needs and wants to keep you safe. Schedule a time to conduct a field visit together to check in on the construction progress and to meet with other service providers on site. Dress appropriately for being on a construction site, starting with proper footwear.
  • Have any materials or special fixtures that you are providing ready when they are needed. These could be items needed in instances such as building a special fire-safe, a wine storage unit, a cigar humidor, etc. Schedule a time with the general contractor to have the materials delivered to the job site.
  • A simple “thank you” goes a long way! This act of kindness can help to keep the morale up and always be appreciated.
  • Make payments on time. Be prepared to review and authorize any progress payments that were agreed to when the construction contract was signed. This would include any changes made during construction. Confirm with your bank or title company that funds were released on time.

“Wasting” Your Time or Your Contractor’s Time

  • Do not engage in direct conversation with the subcontractors working on your project without your general contractor’s permission. You can inadvertently make changes based on your dialogue and their interpretation. All discussions should be between you and your general contractor.
  • Don’t try to manage the project. The general contractor was hired for a reason. They came well-recommended, and they want to build your dream home to your satisfaction. Allow them the opportunity to do so!
  • Be mindful that the general contractor for your project is likely engaged in several other jobs simultaneously. Asking them to be involved with matters unrelated to your project during construction can become a distraction.

Other Reminders

  • Referrals are always welcomed and appreciated. That said, do not give out the contact information for a subcontractor that was used on your construction project without asking first.
  • Be prepared for something to go differently than planned or expected. Give the general contractor time to resolve the matter (if it is within their control), and give yourself time to process and think through whatever has changed.
  • The building process can be fun, rewarding, and challenging for all involved. If something is concerning you, address it with your general contractor, and work together to come to a resolution. We like to keep the lines of communication open.

Overall, general contracting is a service. Reputation, positive feedback, and a happy customer are all at stake for the general contractor. Working together is crucial for a successful project and a successful experience!

About Chet, the author:

Chet Lamers is a Ledgeview resident, co-owner of Converge Properties, LLC, and serves as a member of the Ledgeview Zoning and Planning Commission. Chet holds a master’s degree in Architecture and a master’s degree in Urban Planning from UW-Milwaukee. He has worked in real estate, design, and the construction industry for over 19 years. Chet is also a strong advocate for technical education and training offered locally at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC).

All information and opinions contained within this article were obtained and shared for informational purposes only. The author assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in the content of this article.