Everyone knows to tip restaurant food servers, who rely on tips to supplement their pay. But what about the various contractors who provide services to you at home? For some jobs, it’s appropriate to tip; for others, it is not. Here is some guidance on contractor tips.
Who to tip?
Skilled contractors, such as plumbers, electricians, painters, and HVAC crews, are considered professionals, and some have state licensing that unskilled workers do not. As a rule of thumb, don’t pay these specially skilled contractors tips. The same goes for workers in remodeling, roofing and foundation repair. And don’t tip business owners unless they are sole proprietors handling unskilled work on their own.
Don’t tip delivery service people, either employed with or contracted by retail stores; their employers may have a policy against their employees accepting tips. The same holds true for the big delivery firms such as FedEx and UPS. An example of an exception might be for a delivery crew you have hired that brings a large heavy piece of furniture into the house and arranges it for you.
Telephone, internet and cable technicians do not expect a tip.
Do provide something extra at the right time to unskilled contractors, such as yard maintenance crews, the maid service, your kids’ nanny, and carpet and flooring installers completing a large job. Movers also should be tipped, especially those doing a whole-house move. All of these contractors rely on tips to supplement their base income.
When and how to tip?
If you’re tipping workers who have completed a big, one-time job, do so at the end of the job. A tip of $20 to $50 per person would be appropriate. To give the tip, thank the workers and hand an envelope of cash to the foreman, telling everyone the total amount of money and how you want it divided. It’s best to tip each crew member equally.
For people who do ongoing work for you, such as the yard maintenance crew, your housekeeper and your nanny, it’s best to provide them with a bonus before the year-end holidays rather than a tip.
You can still show your appreciation to workers whom it’s inappropriate to tip. Keep cold drinks on hand for your kitchen remodeling crew, for example, and bring them pizza for lunch occasionally. They may or may not accept your offering, but they will appreciate the kindness you’re showing.
Instead of tipping a skilled contractor who is doing a large job for you, include a provision in your contract awarding a bonus for finishing the project before a specified date.
Related – How to Hire and Work with a Contractor