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  • Writer's pictureZack Jurkowski

How To Manage Expectations During Your Renovation

Time, money, disruption, expectations... these are a few of the things that go into a typical renovation.

As a client, the top of your list of questions is typically:

Where should I start? What should be done before anything else? How do I know which contractor to choose? (More on that here) And how can I ensure that everything will go smoothly from start-to-finish?

As a contractor, the top of your list of questions is typically:

Which sub-contractors or employees will excel at this project? Does the client have a realistic budget? Will they be reasonable with their expectations? How can I make sure this client is happy enough to give me a good review and recommend me?

The bottom line, on either side of the story, is this: a successful renovation starts with a plan!

What The Client Needs To Know

What do I hope to achieve by renovating my space? How long will it take? How much is this going to cost me? (More on that here) What can I do to make sure everyone involved in the process is on the same page and knows what my expectations are? These are all questions that you've got to ask yourself before starting any renovation project.

How You, As A Contractor, Can Answer

It's very important that your clients have a clear idea of what they should expect from you as a contractor throughout the renovation, so that they remain happy and satisfied with the final result.

Here are some tips for managing your clients' expectations during a renovation:

Remind them that renovations take time

The first thing that I do when I bring on a

client is to clearly explain to them the time requirements that the renovation will require. Everyone's budget and timeline is different, but as a rule of thumb, it generally takes about 1 week for every $10-15K spent (i.e., 3-4 weeks to renovate a $30k space). I find that this usually helps my clients form a realistic estimate of when their project will be finished, and it helps them budget their time accordingly.

No matter how hard or fast you work, no matter what processes you've implemented, some things can't be rushed. Mortar, silicone, plaster and paint all take time to dry. The last thing you want to do is rush a step to save a day and end up having the job fail months later.

Let them know what to expect during each stage of the renovation

Make sure your clients are aware of all the steps involved in a renovation before you start working: Prepping the space, demolition, framing, plumbing, electrical, drywall, plaster, tile-setting, trim work, painting, finishing and a huge clean-up. This will give them an idea of what to expect once the renovation is underway-and it will help reduce any stress they may have about losing cherished belongings or having their daily routine disrupted.

Take the time to prep the space before work begins. Protect the floor, set up plastic walls, remove photos and antiques from the area. You'll save the client (and yourself) the hassle of having to clean dust from the entire house.

If you regularly do demolition, grind tiles, sand plaster or anything that generates fine dust, it might be worth it to invest in an air scrubber. This helps maintain negative pressure in the work space, which minimizes the ability for dust to propagate through the house (by drawing air into the workspace and pumping it outside).

Set up regular meetings

A great way to keep your clients happy during a renovation is by keeping in touch with them at regular intervals. If you have everything documented, you can easily update them on the status of their renovation, which will help alleviate any anxieties they may have about the project.

We use an app called BuilderTrend to communicate with clients. It lets us upload daily logs, progress photos and notes to the client's portal. We also keep all communications within the app so that there's no risk of losing track of an old email thread, or (the arguably worse) search through you and your teams text message or Messenger threads.

Keeping communication constant, clear and concise are key!

Be realistic with your timelines (and capabilities)

No matter how well you plan things out, there are always going to be bumps along the road. Don't make promises that you can't keep!

When estimating a finish-date for your renovation, it's important to remember that unexpected issues are bound to come up. Most of the time, these can be resolved easily enough-but they may require you to work longer hours or call in extra help (read, spend more money) to get the project done on time.

The bottom line?

Renovations aren't just about restoring a space to its former glory. It's about making your clients happy, which is why it's so important to have a plan and manage client expectations throughout the process!

Be empathic to the clients expectations. Respect and appreciate the fact that they're investing their money with you and placing a huge amount of trust in you. Be honest and realistic about time, money and your capabilities.


Montreal Contractors is a qualified company, holding an active bonded license as a General Contractor and Specialized Contractor with the Régie du Bâtiment du Québec (RBQ License: 5767-5480-01), ASP Health & Safety Certification and a $2M liability policy. Our employees have all passed background checks, are registered with CNESST and have their ASP Health and Safety certification.

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