courtesy Carnemark Systems + Design

Hoping to squeeze more from less, some remodelers are asking trade contractors to reduce their rates. Before you ask for sacrifice, realize that your plumbers, painters, electricians, and so forth are in the same boat as you, squeezed between rising business costs and increasingly price-sensitive homeowners.

The key is communication. If you ask for a rate cut, do so respectfully, with the understanding that it’s temporary, until the market recovers. Find ways to make the proposition a win-win.

“If I can promise my trade contractors steady work to help them get through this downturn, they’re more likely to work with me on cutting costs,” says Kyle Benjamin (right), production manager of Carnemark Systems + Design, in Bethesda, Md. Being fair goes a long way. “If unforeseen changes come up, we don’t try to pin the costs on the contractor.” Together, they work out a solution and a way to share the costs.

Look to the future together. In his goal of creating quality relationships, Benjamin emphasizes Carnemark’s position on green building and what the company expects from its tradesmen. “It starts with them recycling and doing the easy things and goes from there,” he says.

Plumber David Tyler, of Proficient Plumbing (left), has gone so far as to pass a green certification test. “He is truly trying to stay ahead of us on new plumbing products and practices,” Benjamin says.