Tipping the Contractor

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Oct 2007

We're in the midst of a remodel and new to this whole contractor relationship thing, and I have an etiquette question: Do people give Christmas bonuses to their contractors and/or the people who are actually working at the house every day? They've been here almost a year; I kind of feel like they're in at least as much a tipping position as the nanny...Do we give a bonus at the end of the project if we like the work? Or is the hundreds of thousands of dollars we're paying under the contract enough?(!) I'm kind of generally clueless in these situations and just want to make sure we don't offend anyone. Thanks! Flummoxed by Bellboys and Valets, Too

I'm more in favor of small gestures when it comes to contractors and their workers. Like you said, you are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for the work, and technically, the workers are the contractor's employees, so he should be dealing with the bonuses. Our house is in the middle of a 5- to 6-month remodel. I occasionally buy drinks and treats for the workers. I try to do it every Friday, but sometimes I don't get to it. They are always very grateful and happy that I even care about them. (I get the feeling a lot of people aren't very kind to workers in their home.) If they will be working on your house over the holidays, I would say a gift card, food treat, or some such thing for each worker and the contractor along with a note of thanks for their hard work would enough.
Feb 2000

How much is considered normal in tipping a contractor who does a large ($3500) job on your house? He works for a company, but he has seen the job through from start to finish and has shown up every day, pretty much on time, and even worked long enough to secure things when it started raining. I'm wondering what a proper percentage or absolute value would be -- $475 as a tip seems exhorbitant, but I don't want to flout custom if _everyone_ gives 15%... he's really quite conscientious and skilled.

I've worked in construction (as an estimator and a general contractor) for twelve years, and I've never heard of tipping a contractor as such. On larger projects, it's not unusual for a bonus clause to be in the contract. There is certainly nothing like a pro forma tip required. If you're especially pleased with the worker who's been running your project and feel he's gone above and beyond the call of duty, you could express your appreciation with some money...I imagine he'd be happy with $100 and thrilled with $250. Or, depending on how well you know him, you could give a gift certificate (Post Tools or Builder's Booksource or Chez Panisse...). Thanks for recognizing and appreciating hard work!
maybe I'm out of it, but I've never, ever heard of tipping a contractor!