General Contractors guide to communicating with homeowners


One of the most important parts of your job as a general contractor is to effectively communicate with homeowners, employees and subcontractors. When it comes to homeowners, effective communication will help you maintain transparency which strengthens trust, manage expectations, reduce the probability of conflicts and resolve issues faster. Effective communication will boost your profitability because it helps you increase the probability of successful completion of the work by keeping your costs under control.

Key takeaways

  • During the bidding phase, communicating with homeowners effectively is about projecting expertise, professionalism and build trust: in order to achieve this, it means that as a general contractor you have to be prepared before visiting customers, prepare detailed and professional quotes, set clear expectations when it comes to project timeline (start, duration of project)
  • Post signature of a contract and pre-construction phase, it is highly recommended that you organize a kick-off meeting with a homeowner in order to go over the contract, assign clear tasks to be completed by homeowners before construction start and explain clearly what you need to do in order to prepare the construction site
  • During the construction phase, communicating with homeowners effectively will decrease the probability of conflicts and maximise a successful & smooth completion of the work: in order to achieve this, it means that as a general contractor you have to update customer regularly (weekly basis), address concerns promptly, be transparent with change orders

How to leave homeowners a great first impression as a general contractor during the bidding phase?

A clear communication with homeowners during the bidding phase is one of the most important skills for you to develop in order to close more leads into clients. In this section we’ll cover a summary of best practices for great communication throughout the bidding phase, but we cover this topic more extensively in our guide “How to effectively pitch to your homeowners and win projects!”

Leaving a great impression to homeowners during a home visit in order to bid on a project

You’re invited to bid on a project, great congratulations it’s a first step towards closing a customer. You can leave a solid impression on a homeowner during the bidding phase by following the following steps:

  • Be well-prepared: Arrive on time for the first meeting, dressed appropriately, and have all the necessary materials and information you need to discuss the project.
  • Listen actively: Pay close attention to the homeowner's needs, wants, and concerns. Ask questions and make sure you understand their vision for the project.
  • Communicate clearly: Clearly explain your process, timeline, and budget, and be transparent about any potential challenges that may arise.
  • Demonstrate enthusiasm and expertise: Demonstrate your excitement and expertise for the project and assure the homeowner that you have the skills and experience to complete it to their satisfaction.
  • Follow up: After the meeting, be sure to follow up with a thank-you note or email reiterating your commitment to the project and reiterating key points discussed.

By following these steps, you can build trust and credibility with the homeowner, and set the foundation for a successful project.

Leaving a great impression when sending a quote to a homeowner

Homeowners expect to receive a professional quote that provides detailed information on the work that will be completed, the costs and timeline for completion. In order to leave a great impression with your quote, the goal for you as a general contractor is to remove confusion and to project trust and credibility. You can achieve this by following these steps:

  • Thoroughly assess the project: Take the time to thoroughly assess the project, including any unique challenges or requirements, to ensure the quote is accurate and comprehensive.
  • Break down the costs: Provide a clear breakdown of the costs involved in the project, including materials, labor, and any other expenses, so the homeowner can understand what they are paying for.
  • Be transparent: Be transparent about any potential cost increases or changes that may arise during the course of the project, and clearly explain how they will be handled.
  • Highlight your value: Highlight the unique value you bring to the project, such as your expertise, experience, and commitment to quality workmanship.
  • Include a detailed timeline: Provide a detailed timeline for the project, including start and completion dates, so the homeowner can plan accordingly.
  • Present the quote professionally: Present the quote in a professional manner, using clear, concise language and well-organized presentation materials. Use a construction management software like Billdr PRO to build detailed professional quotes fast. 

Best practices to negotiate a contract with a homeowner

During a negotiation, it’s all about setting boundaries and clear expectations with homeowners. As a general contractor, homeowners will often push you to decrease cost at the expense of quality and hold you responsible for poor quality afterwards. It’s your role to find the right balance as you try to accommodate requests from homeowners but instead of compromising the quality of your work, help the homeowners to make trade-offs. You can achieve this by following these steps:

  • Listen actively: Pay close attention to the homeowner's concerns and priorities, and take the time to understand their perspective.
  • Be transparent: Be open and transparent about the costs involved in the project, including any potential challenges or changes that may arise, and explain how they will be handled.
  • Set clear expectations: Clearly explain your process, timeline, and expectations for the project, and make sure the homeowner understands what is included in the contract.
  • Be flexible: Be willing to consider the homeowner's requests and make changes to the contract if necessary, as long as they align with your capabilities and standards.
  • Address concerns: Address any concerns the homeowner may have in a professional and timely manner, and provide clear and concise answers to their questions.
  • Document everything: Document all agreements and changes made to the contract in writing, and make sure both parties have a clear understanding of the terms of the contract.

What does a homeowner expect after signature of the home renovation contract and before construction?

Congratulations you’ve won a home renovation contract with a homeowner, now what? Well it’s time to continue showing up, actively communicate with homeowners and prepare effectively in order to ensure a successful execution of the work. That preparation should lead to a kick-off meeting a few weeks (or months depending on materials availability) before the construction starts.

Here are a few tips on what to do during a project kick-off meeting with the homeowner:

  • Review the contract: Yes, you should organize a kick-off meeting where you’ll review the contract thoroughly again to ensure a clear understanding of the scope of the project, timeline, and expectations by all parties.
  • Clarify if all necessary permits were obtained: Make sure to ask homeowners in advance the status of all necessary permits and approvals from relevant authorities before starting the construction.
  • Communicate your project plan: Develop a detailed project plan that includes the timeline, budget, resources, and responsibilities of each team member.
  • Communicate to homeowners the necessary actions to prepare the construction site: homeowners often do not know that their home needs some work before construction can start, including cleaning and organizing the area.
  • Build a to-do lists for homeowners: Prepare a to-do list for homeowners with the necessary actions they’re responsible to achieve so that construction can start, it could be ordering certain materials, confirming availability for access to certain parts of the house, or getting some information from their architect or engineer.

How should I communicate with a homeowner during construction?

It’s showtime, the construction is about to start. During construction, great communication with homeowners and your team  is paramount for the successful completion of the project. We advise you to use a construction management software like Billdr PRO to help you structure your work and simplify communication with your clients, employees and subcontractors. In this section, we’ll focus on best practices to strengthen your communication skills with homeowners during construction.

Keeping customers updated about the construction progress

Over 90% of the time, frustration builds up during the construction phase because homeowners are being kept in the dark about the project schedule, or their requests haven’t been acknowledged (or literally forgotten). As a general contractor, you need to update your customers regularly in order to make sure homeowners know what’s going on and avoid frustration building up to the point where very unpleasant conflicts occur. Here are a few tips on how to prevent that frustration from building up:

  • Establish regular communication: Establish a clear and regular communication schedule with the homeowner, such as weekly or bi-weekly progress updates, to keep them informed and engaged. Note: you can do this by updating your construction schedule using construction management software like Bildr PRO.
  • Be transparent and honest: Be transparent and honest about any issues that may arise during the construction process, and provide clear and concise answers to the homeowner's questions. Note: you can do this by sending daily job logs using construction management software like Bildr PRO.
  • Share progress updates: Provide regular progress updates on the construction, including any changes to the timeline or budget, and involve the homeowner in the decision-making process where appropriate.
  • Address concerns promptly: Address any concerns or issues that the homeowner may have in a professional and timely manner, and work with them to find a solution.
  • Encourage feedback: Encourage the homeowner to provide feedback and suggestions throughout the construction process, and take their input into consideration when making decisions.
  • Document everything: Document all agreements, change orders, and updates to the construction process in writing, and make sure both parties have a clear understanding of the terms and progress. Note: we highly recommend you use a construction management software like Bildr PRO to document efficiently.

How can I communicate effectively unforeseen change orders?

Change orders will almost always happen during a major renovation project. Most homeowners don’t realize how much the cost of a project can be impacted by these change orders: on average we’re seeing that on average change orders amount for 12% of the initial contract value. Thus, change orders are a significant portion of the cost of a project and they require you to be able to communicate the reason behind them when they occur for unforeseen events.

Here are a few tips for you to explain to homeowners change orders caused by unforeseen site conditions:

  • Be transparent: Be transparent and honest about the reasons behind the change order, including any unexpected conditions that have been discovered during the construction process.
  • Provide clear explanation: Provide a clear and concise explanation of the changes that are being made, the impact on the timeline and budget, and the reasons for the changes.
  • Use visual aids: Use visual aids such as photos or diagrams to help the homeowner understand the reasons behind the change order and the changes that are being made.
  • Discuss the options: Discuss the options for addressing the unforeseen conditions and provide the homeowner with clear and concise information about the costs and benefits of each option.
  • Get agreement in writing: Get the homeowner's agreement to the change order in writing, including any changes to the timeline, budget, or scope of the project.
  • Keep the homeowner informed: Keep the homeowner informed about the progress of the changes, and involve them in the decision-making process where appropriate.

How to say No politely during construction to excessive change orders requests coming from homeowners?

Excessive change orders can induce long delays in project completion (and thus negatively impact your profitability) depending on the nature of those requests (especially if they involve contacting multiple subcontractors) or the amount of parallel commitments on other construction sites you may be working on simultaneously. As a general contractor, you might have to say no to customers in order to protect your time and your business, but how can you do this as politely as possible? Here are a few tips:

  1. Listen to their request: Listen to the homeowner's request for a change order and try to understand their reasons for making the request.
  2. Explain the impact: Explain the impact that the requested change would have on the timeline, budget, and overall scope of the project.
  3. Offer alternatives: Offer alternatives that may help the homeowner achieve their desired outcome without excessive change orders.
  4. Stand firm: If the requested change order is unreasonable or not feasible, it is important to stand firm and explain that it cannot be accommodated.
  5. Be respectful: Regardless of the outcome, maintain a respectful and professional demeanor, and emphasize that your goal is to complete the project to the homeowner's satisfaction.

What should I communicate to homeowners upon final delivery and post construction

Congratulations, you’re getting close to completing a home renovation project. There are a few steps that you want when it comes to communicating effectively with homeowners in order to ensure a smooth ending. 

Here are the most common topics you want to cover at this stage with homeowners:

  1. Final inspection: Schedule a final inspection with the homeowner to walk through the finished project, address any final concerns, and ensure the homeowner is satisfied with the completed work.
  2. Warranty information: Provide the homeowner with warranty information, including the length of the warranty, what is covered, and how to file a claim. Note: you can efficiently manage all your warranties using construction management software like Bildr PRO.
  3. Maintenance instructions: Provide clear and concise maintenance instructions for the homeowner, including how to care for any finishes, appliances, or systems installed as part of the project.
  4. Final payment: Explain the process for final payment, including any holdback amounts and what documentation is needed to release the payment.
  5. Follow-up: Schedule a follow-up appointment with the homeowner to assess the performance of the project and address any issues that may have arisen.
  6. Thank you note: Consider sending a thank you note or other gesture of appreciation to the homeowner to express your gratitude for the opportunity to work on their project.

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