Q: I’m about to start a remodel with the help of a contractor and I’ve been hearing a lot about material delays and schedule changes. How can I support my contractor during the project?

A: The fact that you’re even asking that question means you genuinely care, and that’s a great first step. Contractors face many challenges right now, from labor shortages to shipping delays. Considering yourself part of their team is key to nurturing a positive relationship. The more helpful you can be to the contractor, the more they can help you. Here are a few general guidelines that will help them, and you, succeed.

Practice good communication

The absolute best thing you can do to help is communicate well. Answer your phone, send text messages, and reply to emails quickly and productively. Be honest and forthcoming about what you want for your home and how you’re feeling about the project. Speaking up early can help you avoid expensive changes later, saving you and your contractor time and money.

Work to develop a rapport with your contractor, as you would with any other service provider. Let them get to know you and get a sense of your personality — and be personable and engaging in return. A little relationship-building will set a strong foundation that will last the entirety of your project.

Be honest about your budget

Remodeling in the Seattle area is expensive. Be honest with yourself about your budget and choose a contractor that fits it. Always plan for at least a 10% variation when remodeling. A reputable contractor will not try to take advantage of you or upsell you.

Giving your contractor an accurate budget will allow them to do their job. They will design within that budget and help you choose materials and finishes that won’t exceed it. Whatever amount you are comfortable investing, present it honestly from the start.

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Plan ahead

Gone are the days of calling up a contractor and getting on their schedule in a matter of weeks. For the most part, experienced contractors are going to be booked out at least a few months. Many are booking out six months and we’ve even heard of a few booked out a year from now. It’s important to have realistic expectations, starting with your timeline.

If you plan on remodeling any time in the next year start talking to contractors now. By starting the process early, you’ll have a few advantages with respect to current construction timelines, a clearer understanding of the process and a spot on the contractor’s radar. (The sooner you’re on their radar, the sooner you can secure a construction start date.)

Additionally, you’ll have extra time to hone your design and secure any necessary permits — this takes more time than you might think!

Prioritize your home goals

Knowing what your home goals are and steadfastly prioritizing them is important. Remodeling and making structural changes to your home can be challenging. You may not be able to get everything you want within the time and budget you have.

Make a list of your top priorities. From the very start, share them with your contractor and repeat them at every stage of the project. This will ensure both you and your contractor are staying true to the fundamental goals of your remodel.

Respond and decide quickly

Respond to your contractor in a timely manner. The faster you respond, the faster your contractor can place orders and complete the work.

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While it may be tempting to mull over faucet options for a week, you need to respond quickly. In the current pandemic economy, everything related to home remodeling is selling fast. Cabinets, appliances, plumbing fixtures, tile, windows and doors are all especially tough to source in a timely manner. Belabored decisions could delay your whole project if the contractor has to wait for restocking or increased shipping times.

I’ve talked a lot about communication, but I can’t stress it enough: Clear communication, honesty, responsiveness and friendliness will go a long way towards making your remodeling experience a positive one. Always remember that you are an important part — perhaps the most important part — of the remodeling team.

Emma Zimmerman is the marketing specialist at Model Remodel, a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBAKS). If you have a home improvement, remodeling or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of MBAKS’s more than 2,600 members, write to homework@mbaks.com.