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arkansas_girl

etiquette question: What to do when contractors are here?

7 years ago
last modified: 7 years ago

We are having a group of roofers coming and I'm wondering if I need to do anything to "provide" for them while they are here. It's a large group of men. Do I offer them food, do I offer them my restroom? Any suggestions you can offer would help.

Comments (45)

  • 7 years ago

    Yes, offer them your rest room. If there is no porta-potty, they'll be peeing behind the bushes.

    Have bottled water out or at least plastic solo cups. Prominently put out some trash cans. Put out some cookies or doughnuts some days. Pizza or fried chicken as a bonus? Ask the foreman was is standard or appreciated. As roofers, I don't anticipate they will be there long. Once a week my husband grilled burgers for our remodelers -- they loved it.

  • 7 years ago

    I would not let them into the house at all. However, anything you set up outside for them, a table with water and/or food is sure to be appreciated.

  • 7 years ago

    I think it's lovely that you would want to make their lives a little easier! That said, will you be at home alone? If so, please be cautious about allowing them to come inside to use your restroom. You have no way of knowing who (or what) this large group of men includes. Here's an article from Angie's List that speaks to this, with many apparently recognizing that "nature calls" for all of us and being willing to accommodate contractors. I think that's a nice sentiment. I also think I'd be leery of letting a total stranger come into my home and relieve himself. (Just being honest.)

  • 7 years ago

    In my experience, they bring their own food, water, lunches, etc., or leave and go out to lunch/breaks, as they are entitled to breaks and lunch hours. I may be naïve, but I don't think they are using my yard for personal reasons, and if they are, well, they are private and discreet, so......

    Now that I think about it, indoor workers also leave to take breaks for personal reasons. Never has a worker asked to use my bathrooms.

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I agree that it would be out of the norm for roofers to ask to use the facilities. I'm guessing you won't even have to worry about that - but I do think it's nice to offer something like donuts in the morning, if you're so inclined. Absolutely not necessary, but it shows that you see them, if you know what I mean.

    I wouldn't care at all if someone "watered" my bushes. :-)

  • 7 years ago

    We had our front door refinished a few weeks ago, and for the first time ever a worker asked to use my bathroom. I let him, but it made me very uncomfortable as I was home alone. I certainly wouldn't offer its use.

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    If it is very hot I try to provide outside workers with extra water and ice. Other than that, I expect that they should be able to figure out where to take bathroom breaks, where to buy food or pack a lunch, etc.

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I always let workers use my bathroom. I mean, if they were in an office or factory there would be a bathroom. If they're out in the woods they have the luxury of a tree. I have had more than one ask.

  • 7 years ago

    Robo, there are gas stations and fast food places that are less than a 2 minute drive from my house so I don't feel bad about leaving outside workers to their own devices. Maybe if I lived far away from facilities I might be more accommodating.

    Many contractors around here provide port a pottys but I don't know the circumstances for which they are required.

  • 7 years ago

    I had a contractor ask to use my microwave to heat up some turkey soup. I told him yes, but I wasn't happy about it; it was stinky.

    I've also had them use my bathroom. I've offered water to landscape guys trimming my hedges.

  • 7 years ago

    You do nothing but greet them, then find a room that's not noisy. These guys come prepared. Microwaves, prepared food, weed, you name it. :) True.

    Unless it's an emergency, do not let them in your home. When we had a large remodel done, two guys were expected to work on a small ceiling inside the home. The contractor wasn't going to be here, which was okay with me. However, the two guys came along with TEN of their friends.

    I called the contractor and he was here lickety split and ran those guys off.

    And please lock your doors. I don't trust strangers.

  • 7 years ago

    Reroofing is a hard job, especially here in Florida. Crews are often made up of people who have a hard time being hired for other jobs (felony arrests) . They do come prepared to work for the day. About lunch time they may all go to the closest fast food place to use the facilities.

    Do not be shocked if you find evidence of some weed usage, we did. Got a great roof though!

    The important thing is to be sure your roofing company has proper insurance coverage.

  • 7 years ago

    Maybe I'm naive or sheltered where I live, but it would never occur to me to deny another human being the use of my washroom while s/he was in my home at my request/invitation. Or be upset that their lunch was stinky. We had a new heating system installed in October, the 3 guys used my washroom (2 just to wash their hands) and my husband made coffee and chatted with them as they had their morning break.

  • 7 years ago

    You shouldn't feel obligated do provide either. If am comfortable with them I may offer that they can use the restroom if necessary...I would do donuts one morning or bake brownies or something like that. It's just a matter of your comfort level, but nothing is required from you.

  • 7 years ago

    I usually offer coffee or water. If it's a longer job I do snacks or a coffee run (Tim's) at times.

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Maybe I'm naive or sheltered where I live, but it would never occur to me to deny another human being the use of my washroom while s/he was in my home at my request/invitation.

    Roofers, however, aren't in your home - they're outside your home and the general expectation, I believe, is that's where they will remain until the job is completed. I can't really imagine a roofer knocking on the door and asking to come inside to use the facilities. Can you?

  • 7 years ago

    " I can't really imagine a roofer knocking on the door and asking to come inside to use the facilities. Can you?"

    We have had extensive remodeling done at different homes during the long length of homeownership(s). I can not remember being asked to use the bathroom even one time.

  • PRO
    7 years ago

    Many years ago, the drywall ears asked if they could use my bathroom if needed. I said they could. Later, I discovered that several pieces of jewelry were missing. All were insured but also had sentimental value. How do I know they took them? They were such pigs that they traced drywall mud all the way down the hall, past the bath, straight into my bedroom! They had arrived early that am and I hadn't had time to put on my jewelry, which is why it was sitting on my dressing table. They denied it, GC confronted them with the evidence as well, but they claimed they were "looking for the bathroom". Of course the walked right past it with the door open, and one could see it was a bedroom from the hall. Just dishonest.

    i also used to allow done to use basement toilet if they were working outside (basement garage entrance). Every time I find, I'd later realize they just helped themselves to my husband's hand tools as the passed by.

    No more workmen in my house if doing outside work, and I position myself near where they're working inside to be sure no one goes roaming.

  • PRO
    7 years ago

    They can steal things from the yard also. I had a crew of yard maintenance workers steal a cast iron stork that was standing beside my pond in Venice. When I had my water heater replaced last Thanksgiving, I did allow one worker to use the restroom, but I was around to make sure that he did not go into any other room. The people across the street were having work done on the roof (and perhaps other work), and they had a portable toilet in their front yard, plus a dumpster on the street.

    I'm more concerned about movers stealing, as they have more access.

  • 7 years ago

    I never offer food or drinks. In fact if I offer they politely decline. However my neighbor routinely bakes cookies and sometimes fixes lunch for her contractors. She enjoys doing it. No one has ever asked to use my bathroom except the last guy who was here installing the furnace.

    Like someone mentioned, they take their lunch breaks off property and I'm assuming any other breaks they need at that time. But if you wish to offer them something, why not?

  • 7 years ago

    The contractor should be required to provide a portapotty.

  • 7 years ago

    My neighbor two houses down is having her house re-stuccoed right now. The workers have a large business pickup truck that tows a smallish trailer with an outhouse mounted right on it. I think that's a very handy idea! When we had most of the doors and windows in our home replaced earlier this year, I had 8-10 guys working on them pretty much every day for over a week. I offered them the use of my powder room and they were surprised that I offered it, but did use it and kept it very clean. I did that because they were already in my house working. Outside workers, such as roofers, I probably would not offer the rest room. I also bought bottles of water, chilled them and put them in a cooler out on our back patio for them. Many did end up drinking them.

  • 7 years ago

    I stock my outside fridge in my outdoor kitchen w/ bottled water and offer it to workers. Some have taken me up on it, most do not. The majority of people we have had doing work were the crew who were involved in our original build and spent months at the house (like our painter) so I'm Ok w/ them using the restroom since we got to "know" them during the build.

    When we had our big landscape project done which took 4-5 months, no one asked to use the rest room. We have 5 wooded acres and aren't near anything so I suspect some went potty in the woods. Which is fine. Had anyone asked, I would have allowed them in.

  • 7 years ago

    Thanks so much for all the suggestions and advice!

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    When we had our roof redone a couple of years ago I brought cookies and ice water to the workers every day. When their supervisor showed up I told him that I offered the use of our first floor half bath to the men. He said that they are not allowed to go in homes. I do understand, although my DH was home. They got in the cars and went into town to use a public restroom. They did enjoy the cookies though!

  • 7 years ago

    I agree with everything gardengal said above. Although we have a bathroom in our basement that is accessible from a separate entrance, and I do offer it to workmen that I am more familiar with, I wouldn't offer it to a crew of men working outside that I didn't know.

    I find contractors and workmen appreciate it most if you stay out of their way, compliment their work when it is done well, and let them do their job.

  • 7 years ago

    "Have bottled water out or at least plastic solo cups. Prominently put out some trash cans. Put out some cookies or doughnuts some days. Pizza or fried chicken as a bonus? "

    Hmmm, contractors and their teams are WORKING, not coming by for a party! That sounds ridiculous, to be honest-why in the world would a homeowner be setting out snacks and meals?!

    I've had one or two workers ask to use my bathroom and of course I allow them to do so but I will admit it makes me a bit uncomfortable to have a stranger using what is one of the most 'personal' areas in my home. I usually offer bottled water and occasionally have that accepted.

  • 7 years ago

    If one hasn't had a lot of experience with contracting crews, I think a lot of people would think of providing them with water and facilities, at least. I know I did.

    But once you have BTDT, you realize a lot of things. First, this is what they do. They have already figured out the logistics of the facilities. Second, they are not children. They all bring their own water, etc. Third, some of them are right out of an HGTV episode, and some of them are not. Some of them are ... decidedly not. You would not let every random stranger into your home, and these people are strangers. Just because your contractor decided to hire them doesn't mean they are your pals.

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    If you post this question on one of the threads frequented by contractors, you will get completely different replies for the most part. This subject has been discussed a few times on the remodeling and kitchen forums. HERE is one thread.

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I'm so happy to read that it's not expected of me to give them refreshments and access to the facilities! Sheew, that's a huge relief off my mind. I thought, in my mind "Oh I'm a horrible person if I don't cook for them and let them use my bathroom". YES, I'm totally inexperienced. Usually I have someone that's a family member doing work for me...just small stuff in the past so I always feed him if he's here at lunch time. These are complete strangers that will be here.


    That thread, what I read of it, seems to be leaning toward you are expected to give food and restrooms? Huummm...


    We do have convenience stores and fast food places very close by, like less than a mile.

  • 7 years ago

    If in doubt, ask your contractor.

  • 7 years ago

    I never had contractors working on the outside of the house ask to use the powder room and I would not like that. I presume they have bottles or something in the truck? The way my house is set up (corner property), if you tried peeing outside there is a good chance you would be spotted. I do offer bottles of water but they often decline. The contractor who did my bathroom remodel was a total pain in the ass. He kept talking about a previous client who had provided breakfast for him and his workers every day. It was a much larger job and she could afford it. I finally started buying bagels or whatever once in awhile, but I felt coerced. On another job I bought everyone a nice lunch on one of the last days. On jobs where they were working inside, they used the bathrooms. Don't know what else they would have done.

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Here's another thread on the topic that I posted when I was about to have my guest bathroom remodeled. It certainly had a different vibe from this one. :)

    In a nutshell, the only available bathroom during the remodel was my ensuite bathroom. I live alone. No way was I going to have people, nice or not, traipsing through my bedroom to use the toilet. After being roundly chastised for my lack of thoughtfulness, I planned to have a porta-potty at my expense. Instead, my GC asked if I wanted him to provide one, and discovered it was included in his cost anyway. Worked out great. Remember to shut your windows and doors when the pumper truck visits.

    The potty in place.

  • 7 years ago

    The contractor whose crew framed an addition to our home did not allow his workers inside the house, except where the connecting doors were being framed. Why not? One of his former employees had stolen money from a customer's safe, was prosecuted, and did jail time. The contractor was protecting himself, his crew, and their reputations. They usually brought their lunches, but left in the middle of the day to use facilities elsewhere--a 5 minute drive. I offered them coffee, which sometimes they accepted when it was time for their breaks.

    They did something that bugged me, although I asked them not to--they fed my dogs the last bite or two of their lunches, after I'd spent years training the dogs not to beg when we have meals and gatherings outside. It wasn't worth reporting to the boss, though, and after they disappeared, the dogs easily went back to the status quo.

  • 7 years ago

    My dog likes to amuse herself by stealing our landscapers' lunches and work gloves. We have made amends and our worker has made a friend.

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I've brought up lunches on occasion. I can't offer them the use of the potty, since it isn't connected into the septic yet .... (this is an inside/outside/full new house project.)

    Meanwhile, he (and his subs) drive down to the town works department to go, or to a community center (as do I). For the first 6 months, he rented a porta potty on his own dime (or maybe it was bundled into my dime, but I didn't care.)

    I'm sure a sub or two has found a bush to go behind... Would not surprise or concern me, actually.

    My GC is diabetic so I try to bring him healthy food. He likes healthy food, but much prefers the stuff that got him diabetic to begin with, so he gets the healthy stuff when I bring it. I eat the same stuff as I bring. He appreciates that I am a fan of spices and herbs.

    Anyhow, I don't feel obligated to bring food -- but simply occasionally it is a nice touch for me to do so. He/they seem to appreciate, without expecting it. In fact, one time I was up and the GC treated me out to lunch at a neighboring diner (which ONLY served the types of foods he shouldn't be eating!)

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    There's a difference between a contractor and workers. We had one contractor, and he came and went as pleased in our house. He was in charge of contracting and would mostly stay when the work was being done. He'd usually go into town and eat lunch by himself. His workers OTOH, are the ones who bring their fix for the day, and let me tell you, they bring better food than I cook!

    I can't even imagine offering drinks and cookies. The guys have it down pat. Or their wive's make sure they do.

    Do you expect your boss at work to provide food and drinks for free? Unless you worked at Google they probably would. lol

    ETA: One thing you should never do is loan one of your favorite DVD's to your contractor, especially if it's about ballet, and he was a former dancer in the ballet. ;)

  • 7 years ago

    Provide food? You're having work done, not a party!

    On hot days, I have been known to put out a tub filled with ice & water bottles, but I'm not going to "cater" anything for someone I'm paying to work.


    We had our roof replaced about 5 years ago. We live out in the boonies, and the closest gas station/convenience store is 5 miles away.

    The contractor came on site and stayed the entire time the work crew was there.

    I asked him about us providing use of our bathroom and he said absolutely NOT. He also informed us up front to keep the garage door DOWN all the time and to keep all blinds closed. We did as instructed.


    About 2 weeks after that, our neighbor had their roof replaced as well. (different company) One afternoon, I sat a box for one of the local charities out at the curb filled with bedding, clothes, etc. When I went back out to get the mail, I looked in the box, the workers had taken all the stuff out of the box and replaced it with their lunch trash!!



  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    One more thing, even if you don't think they'll be in your house, I strongly suggest you hide any valuables. (cameras, tablets, jewelry .... anything that can be casually picked up.) Don't leave anything in plain sight.

    And put away any medications -- don't make them easy to find either.

    Just for your protection and peace of mind.

  • 7 years ago

    I go out into the field for my job-some times I'm at a house (in the yard, not IN their house) and I know to make a pit stop before I go to the site visit. I also always carry supplies, tissues, water, etc so I don't have to ask a homeowner to use their facilities. Once in a great while, nature has called unexpectedly and I have to excuse myself to go find a tree-but that has only ever happened in prolonged site visits out on acreage where there is no building.

    When we had our roof done, the crews were prepared and took off for breaks-I'm sure they did their business then. We didn't provide water, but it was also only around 70 degrees at the time. Most professional work crews know to take care of business ahead of time, but the offer of a thermos of coffee or some water is a nice gesture.

  • PRO
    7 years ago

    I was of the mindset to "not mind" if workers used my lavatory; did not really have a choice, as I was not living in the house. After repeatedly finding yellow urine on the toilet seat, I lost a lot of respect for some of them.

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    There was a thread this summer about yard workers, they are the same crew each time. I gave them bottled water on several days when I knew they were doing our yards (the same crew does several local yards as well as part of mine).

    I agree with those who say that contractors come prepared with food/water, but I think in unusual situations such as very high heat it might be nice to offer water, because even if they bring some it may not have been enough in the Texas heat.

  • 7 years ago

    We often ( f we are home) will offer cold beverages- water, soda etc. It is always appreciated (though not always accepted). We have never offered them to use the restrooms and they have never asked.

  • 2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    My neighbors, who had returned after having a fire, had some men working on their roof. I was out in my yard doing work. I noticed that one of the workman walked from their house 2 doors down to ask to use my bathroom with a report that the owners had locked their home. I was shocked! I am an older woman who now lives alone. I am wary after a long career as a Community Psych RN.

    I had a contractor repairing a small section of retaining wall request a key to the house while I would be at work! He stated the head of maintenance at the community center where my clinic was housed trusted him with the key to his. Needless, to say, I refused them both & they were shocked.