Top remodeling gripes from homeowners and contractors

Consumer Reports News: June 29, 2012 02:08 PM

The contractor-homeowner relationship isn't always easy. Even good pros can give clients headaches, and vice versa. So we asked homeowners and contractors to tell us their troubles—and got advice from the pros on how to avoid the problems.

Homeowners sound off
General contractors were significantly more aggravating than subcontractors such as plumbers, electricians, and painters, though not quite as annoying as the cable guy, according to a nationally representative survey of 913 homeowners conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center. Failing to show up was the top complaint. Also annoying were not taking the time needed to do the job right, not listening to or understanding requests, and leaving a mess. Surprisingly, cost overruns were at the bottom of the list.

Contractors' pet peeves
"Kids and pets," said Michael Hydeck, president of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. "People have to remember that a remodeling site is not a playground." Other complaints include clients calling at all hours of the night and not appreciating the minor imperfections that come with handcrafted work.

Keeping the peace
Miscommunication and mismatched expectations are the cause of most of those problems. So don't underestimate the importance of a good rapport. Establish guidelines for hours of work, cleanliness of the job site, and whom to contact when a quick answer is needed.

Once the work begins, keep in touch every day. E-mail maintains a paper trail and averts those after-hours calls. But don't take the entire relationship online. "There's still no substitute for live conversations," says Candi Hilton, a remodeler in Naples, Fla. And if there's a problem, speak up. The longer you wait, the more expensive it can be to fix.

Use our Ratings of appliances and home improvement products to find the top performers for your next project. Find more advice in Consumer Reports guides to updating your kitchen and remodeling your bathroom.

Adapted from Consumer Reports Kitchen Planning & Buying Guide, on newsstands now.

E-mail Newsletters

FREE e-mail Newsletters! Choose from cars, safety, health, and more!
Already signed-up?
Manage your newsletters here too.

Home & Garden News


Cars Build & Buy Car Buying Service
Save thousands off MSRP with upfront dealer pricing information and a transparent car buying experience.

See your savings


Mobile Get Ratings on the go and compare
while you shop

Learn more