Communicating with Your General Contractor


Have you ever said any of the following statements?

  • “You did tell me that!”
  • “I didn’t realize that!”
  • “I heard something different!”
  • “That was not what I was expecting!”
  • “I thought we were on the same page?”

I know that both in my home and professional life I have used these statements at one time or another.  Until I fully develop my mind reading capabilities, I will probably say all of them in the future.  People’s communication styles vary based on the environment they are in.  For instance, I will communicate very differently with a co-worker than I would with my 4-year-old.  I would not squat down next to my co-worker, grab their hand, and ask them if they want fruit snacks and kiss their forehead.  That would be awkward and probably end in a lawsuit.

Over the years, I have noticed that I need to be flexible in my communication style with my clients. Some clients say exactly what they want the result to be and set their expectations up front.  Some clients are still developing a list of needs and require a longer discussion of what the result needs to be.  Other clients prefer to only communicate through an architect.  In any case, communication is essential to a successful project.

As a general contractor, I prefer an open and honest discussion style with my clients.  I would rather a client be upfront and say that they think we are heading down the wrong path or that they are unclear what I am communicating than to proceed and not get exactly what they want.  In the same way, I do my best to communicate realistic timing expectations and project costs.  Upfront and honest communication prevents disappointment, frustration and starts the project on a successful path.  Setting a positive and straightforward project tone by good communication saves time and money, which is the key to a great project.

I take great pride at the end of a project when a client says “You listened to me. You and your team made the project work and its better than I could have expected”.  Communication for the MJI Team is more about listening and understanding our clients’ needs than it is about speaking, and that is what makes for successful project.

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