Should I tip my contractor/carpenter?
October 23, 2012 3:08 AM   Subscribe

I just had a significant amount of work ($80K) done on my house due to storm damage. My insurance is paying for all of the repairs, which were significant and required that I move out of the house for six months. I got very lucky and have an amazing contractor, who hired an equally amazing carpenter who turns out to be a perfectionist and has done impeccable work. Should I tip them or buy them something to say thank you?

I have a century old bungalow for which I wanted to maintain it's century old style and workmanship, I'm in love with this house. The contractor was very agreeable to work with, listened patiently and delivered on all of my requests for changes to the original construction to enhance parts of the the home while staying within budget. I have heard that many contractors will do the work as cheaply as possible, use a lot of plastic materials, Home Depot fixtures, etc. I was very involved in oversight to make sure this did not happen, it didn't. My question is, is it customary to tip a contractor and trades people who do exceptionally good work, especially when it's an insurance claim? I have offered the carpenter dinner/lunch for him and his crew during this final week of work, he said he would get back to me. Is dinner for four people (~$200) too much considering I am not a rich person but feel compelled to thank them for restoring my home so well? I'm definitely coming out of this with a more valuable house than I started with, a lot of which is due to just needing to rebuild a house that needed repairs anyway, it's not like they lost money by doing good work, and since it was such a large claim they certainly must have made decent money.
posted by waving to Society & Culture (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
FWIW, I'm a single mom working full time, not rich but doing alright.
posted by waving at 3:16 AM on October 23, 2012

This is tangential, but your contractor might appreciate you buying an Angie's List membership and writing him a glowing and detailed review more so than any other tip.
posted by ftm at 3:25 AM on October 23, 2012 [12 favorites]

Regarding the contractor, ftm is absolutely correct. Regarding his crew, having lived with a carpenter/builder for a while, I know he used to speak in glowing terms about clients who knew what they wanted and were respectful and appreciative verbally - and if they happened to get some nice catering in on the last day... Let's just say he's probably still reminiscing about those jobs. And sandwiches. :)
posted by pammeke at 3:38 AM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

I work in construction. Our guys have gotten gifts like gift cards, cash, and booze from customers for whom we did long-term projects. They also really liked customers who bought lunch for the crew on one of their last days on the job site.

Such a thing is totally unnecessary and unexpected by our crew but damn do they appreciate it.
posted by futureisunwritten at 3:44 AM on October 23, 2012 [8 favorites]

Nthing final day catered lunch catering plus detailed, glowing review on Angie's List. I did this for the fantastic work team I hired recently. They seemed thrilled. If the work is over and it's too late for the catered lunch, you could give a gift card for a local restaurant.
posted by Elsie at 3:45 AM on October 23, 2012 [5 favorites]

The above, plus recommend them to people you know. It's going to come up, and even if you're talking to people who don't currently have construction work, they will in the future, or they know someone who does.
posted by jeather at 5:39 AM on October 23, 2012

I am a contractor - I agree with what people are saying above. Lunch the final day and recommendations.

But, I would also say, tell them that they can use you as a reference. That is VERY MEANINGFUL to a contractor. He will be in a situation trying to sell a similar job to someone, and if he can say, I have this customer that you can call and talk to about our work. Contractors will not ask you to be a reference, but if you offer it is very helpful.

Also, I wouldn't worry about Angie's List too much. Especially if he is not paying them money. Contractors have to pay Angie's List - and the more you pay, the higher on the list you are. If he is not paying money to have his name high-lighted on that web-site, then one good review will mostly go un-noticed. Besides that, the vast majority of reviews on the web-site are written by the contractors themselves, on friends computers. That web-site is a scam as far as most contractors are concerned - don't pay them money and help support the scam.
posted by Flood at 6:50 AM on October 23, 2012 [9 favorites]

In addition to the great suggestions above, I would also let the insurance company know that the contractor did a good job. No need to give details about above and beyond, but telling the insurance company you were very satisfied and would use them again will/might help them get work from that insurance company in the future.
posted by AugustWest at 7:00 AM on October 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

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