GCs bullying you to do what they recommend – even if you don’t like it
A general contractor, or GC, is hired to take a set of plans, blueprints or directions and complete all the necessary building and construction. They will also hire and organize the subcontractors (plumbers, electricians, laborers, etc.), order materials, properly inspect the work and handle all the paperwork.
A GC has a lot of experience and expertise to draw from and you should be able to trust them to get the job done. That’s why you hired them, right?
But what do you do when a GC oversteps their bounds and pushes you to add, subtract or otherwise redesign your renovation or home project? What do you do when you feel bullied and backed into a corner to do what they recommend – even if it’s not right for you and your home?
In previous blogs we talked about the perils and warning signs of GCs who just do what they’re told without a comprehensive vision, and we discussed what it looks like when a GC recommends doing what they’ve done before, even it doesn’t work for you.
Now we want to talk about being bullied and otherwise feeling like you are forced to take a GC’s recommendations even if you don’t like them and they conflict with your vision.
There should be no place for bullying in any professional industry. If you went into a coffee shop and tried to order a vanilla latte but the barista intimidated you into ordering a decaf green tea instead, you’d turn around and walk out. But there’s a certain kind of intimidation and a unique kind of helplessness that you might feel when your home, the place you love and live, is on the line.
The problem with bullying from a GC is that they are in your home, have presumably already done some of the construction, you may have already paid them and they can essentially hold your project hostage. Needless to say, this is far from OK.
Even though it may be difficult, we would encourage you to stick to your values and your vision. If a major, or even a minor, modification to your design does not sit well with you and does not match your concept, say so. Hopefully your GC listens and backs off. You may need to remind yourself that this is YOUR home. You are the one who will live in this space for years to come. It is your life, lifestyle and investment. The GC might have some good ideas that you can listen to, but they DO NOT have the final say. The final say is yours and yours alone.
But what happens if the GC persists and feel like you are being pushed against a (badly designed) wall? What happens if you say no and they say yes?
What can you do?
1. First, you have a contract that you can fall back on to identify what was and what was not included in the original agreement. If there is a breach of contract, you have the right to fire your GC.
2. You can check to see if your contractor is licensed (although you should have done this from the beginning!). If they are licensed, you can file a complaint through the state licensing agency. They can help mediate the problem.
3. If it’s an extreme situation and you are feeling threatened or in real danger of your safety, you can call the police.
Another option is to call us. We’re not the authorities and we don’t have any power over your GC, but we can arm you with information and we may be able to help you determine some solution to the problem. We also can be on-site during the building process to help serve as your advocate during this phase. We can be your voice and help ensure that the GC gets the project done how you want it – no ifs, ands or buts in between.
It should never be within anyone’s power to bully or intimidate you to do something you don’t want to do. Especially when you are paying them and have previously discussed the parameters of the work. We hope that this never happens to you, but if it does, trust your vision, stick to your values and know that you have a contract, licensing agency, and even the authorities to back you up.