Blog Buyer Do's and Don'ts of hiring a contractor Part 1

Do’s and Don’ts of hiring a contractor Part 1

By Julia Robertson, May 3, 2019

Hiring a contractor: 101. Learning from my personal success and failures working with contractors.

First I’d like to say, when you hire the right contractor- your project will be so much easier to deal with. When you hire the wrong contractor- get ready for a long, stressful, expensive process. When we started our renovation in 2015, many of the bids we received were from contractors referred to me within our broker network(other real estate agents that I know). Other contractors I hired were from “Thumbtack” or personally referred. If you have a large project, having the right mindset is #1! You can’t be passive, you must be deliberate. Here are some basic do’s & don’ts. I’m happy to share my experience with you, to guide you in the right direction. Feel free to reach out if you’re curious about the process.

  1. Do include a design plan in your budget. Having a plan is worth the extra couple hundred/thousand dollars.
  2. Do have a design plan before getting a bid with your general contractor.
  3. Do get multiple bids. Second phase of our attic/master bedroom renovation, we got 6 bids.
  4. Do ask for past client references. We are very happy with our contractor that we had a personal referral from. When I say personal, I mean- a past client that personally shared their experience with you. Hiring a contractor for a job because you like their work, “hear good things”, or another realtor used them to fix something on a repair addendum- is NOT the same.
  5.  Do plan for your project to take longer than expected.
  6. Do read your contract thoroughly and look at how the contractor expects to be paid.. Biggest mistake we made with one of our contractors is not reading this fine print. We were so eager to negotiate price, that we missed our contract stated- “50% payment due 30 days after project begins…” This landscaper only worked 5 days in the first month because his crew quit and weather delays. This was a stupid oversight on our part. So many decisions are being made, it’s easy to miss something. Best situation for us was paying our contractor by cost plus. He pays all the sub-contractors directly, emails us all the invoices, then we pay him about 30 days after the work is complete. Then he takes an overall percentage for managing/cleaning/communicating the jobs.
  7. Do pop in and check on your project and ask questions. I can’t even count how many times our landscaping contractor had to re-do parts of our project. If we had brought up our questions sooner, the project would have been finished 3 months sooner and cost several thousand less $$.
  8. Do tell your contractor that you want weekly updates.
  9. Do make sure EVERYTHING you discuss is in writing. Ask to update your contract if there is a change order to remove or add a part to your project.
  10. Don’t make your final payment until you are completely satisfied. I’ve made this mistake twice! Trust me, they’ll never come back to fix those final things if you’ve already paid them.

If you’re having thoughts about buying, selling, or renovating- give me a call! I’d love to be your guide through the process. Watch for part II of hiring a contractor!

Julia Robertson

Broker licensed in Oregon & Washington | Living Room Realty

541-505-1111 |

The “Money Pit”


Julia Robertson

Earth Advantage Broker Licensed in OR & WA

Julia Robertson is first and foremost a passionate Oregonian. She moved to Oregon eleven years ago and genuinely loves showing the city to clients who are considering whether to relocate. Julia constantly explores the city so that she can accurately match clients with a part of Portland Metro or Vancouver that is perfect them. She believes that everyone deserves the chance to own a home in an area or neighborhood that they love. Since a real estate purchase is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make, Julia works tirelessly with her clients to build a trusting relationship and help them find not just a house, but a home. She has experience working with a broad range of clients to fulfill their diverse and unique needs. Are you selling your home? Purchasing your first condo downtown? Searching for property outside of the city? Looking to buy an investment property? Julia can help you come up with a plan that meets your timeline, your budget  and your needs.  If you’d like to meet for coffee or lunch to discuss potential real estate opportunities, Julia would love to hear from you. When Julia represents a client in the sale or purchase of a home, Julia treats the agency they have like a friendship, going above and beyond to serve her clients. She considers the client’s budget, bottom line, area preferences, and future plans. While Julia doesn’t consider herself a “sales person,” she does have over twenty years of experience in the field of sales and knows how to conduct herself in negotiations and details. Your business is Julia’s top priority, and she always makes herself available. From an early age, Julia loved everything related to homemaking.  Her childhood spent moving from town to town and always having to be “the new kid” gave her the personal confidence to meet new people and boldly operate in the high stakes world of real estate. Julia is a licensed Realtor in Oregon and Washington as a Seller Representative Specialist(SRS) and Earth Advantage-certified broker. She currently serves on the Living Room Realty broker advisory board and attends the Portland B corporation meetings.
Read More
  • T: 541-505-1111
  • F: 503-961-8224

You might also enjoy

Rare Opportunity! 2 Homes, 1 Lot ~ Inner SE Portland!

Martin Cross

1816 SE Taylor Street, Portland OR 97214 – Listed at $849,000   Fantastic Investment Opportunity: Could be part...

Navigating A Hot Market In Difficult Times.

Andy Meeks

Buying a home in a global pandemic amidst national social upheaval with record low levels of...

A big year!

David Columbus

Erica & Justin set out over a year ago with some big plans, get married, and...

JUST LISTED! Spacious Pre-Inspected Corner Unit!

Jason & Kristin Anderson

SPACIOUS PRE-INSPECTED CORNER UNIT!  $344,900 163 NE 79th Ave., Hillsboro OR 97006 Spacious light filled 3...