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Published on Mar 20, 2024

 Finding ways to save money on a remodel can be key to making the project affordable. Homeowners have several options. This blog provides our advice from completing a number of projects where homeowners saved labor costs by completing some of the work.

Discuss this with your contractor

First, this approach should be discussed with the contractors you are interviewing for your project with the precise terms finalized prior to the final estimate. How the terms are structured depends on the type of contract the contractor uses. Note that not all contractors allow for a shared work arrangement.

There are two ways to approach this kind of agreement. The first is keeping the work completed by the homeowner separate from the contractor’s work. The second option is an agreement that allows the homeowner to work on items the contractor is also completing.

Divide the work

Keeping the contractor and homeowner tasks separate is the best approach. I have seen this approach most often with painting. The contractor completes their defined tasks prior to and after the painting scope of work(performed by the homeowner). Other tasks completed by the homeowner include demolition prior to the contractor starting the project and decking installation after the framing is completed. Maintaining separation between contractor and homeowner tasks ensures good transparency throughout the project regarding quality, warranty work, and billing.

While risky, under the right circumstances a homeowner and contractor can work on the same task. This is most often done with clean up at the end of the day or over the weekend after the contractor is off site. This does not include cleaning the contractor’s crew must do to maintain safe working conditions during the week. This type of shared-task agreement can only be done with a Cost-Plus contract. There are at least three risk factors: clearly identifying who is responsible for warranty work, tracking savings as homeowners are likely to take longer completing a task, and documenting who completed exactly which tasks for project records.

Find the right contractor

Finding a contractor who allows for one of these approaches to your project can be a big money saver. There is risk for both the homeowner and contractor when agreeing to these terms. To make it work, defining the termsprior to signing the detailed estimate and good communication are key.

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