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Should Contractors Be Tipped?

Should Contractors Be Tipped?

Tipping is common for many service-related jobs, but should contractors be tripped as well? This is a fair question to ask given that you don’t want to shortchange anyone for a job well done!

No, you typically don’t need to tip your contractor.

Many home builders build in their costs to your cost to build. Similarly, subcontractors will cushion their rates to include labor, materials, and profit.

Want to know more about if you should tip your contractor? Read on for all the answers you need.

The confusion

It’s always tough to figure out who to tip and who not to tip. You definitely tip your waiter, of course, but what about someone who runs your food out to your car?

There are plenty of professionals who do great things for you but it’s tough to figure out if they are supposed to be tipped.

One of the professions that seems like it might require tipping is that of contractors. Contractors work in your home and they do a tough job, but they also tend to set their own pay rates and function fairly independently.

It makes sense, then, that there’s a natural confusion as to whether or not you should tip contractors!

The Expectation

The vast majority of contractors don’t expect you to give them in a tip during the course of business. Contractors typically set prices that are commensurate with their ability and labor, so you don’t need to worry on that front.

Contracts assume that they money they make is going to be what they charge.

So few contractors expect a tip that there’s not really a lot of clear guidance on the process. This just isn’t a tip-based field and most aren’t going to walk away from a job angry if they don’t get a gratuity.

This doesn’t mean that contractors don’t like the appreciation of their customers, of course. Treating them with professional respect and praising their work can go a long way.

Giving a tip, however, is really something that only happens in the most extraordinary of circumstances.

The Exceptions

There are, however, always reasons to tip your contractor. When you think about tipping as a gratuity, it makes a little more sense. You’re not trying to make up for low wages, you’re trying to express your gratitude.

So, when do contractors really expect you to tip? It’s generally when the contractor has gone above and beyond. Tipping tends to occur in this field when the contractor does something for which he or she isn’t compensated.

It’s also a good idea to tip your contractor if you have to be exceptionally demanding. Let’s face it, sometimes even the best client has to get picky and that makes the contractor’s life a little more difficult. A tip can be a great way to smooth things over after you’ve gotten your way.

In fact, tips are generally good for keeping morale high. If you know that the day’s been tough, doing something to help out won’t be frowned upon. Doing so is going to help anyone working on your site have a better day, after all.

In short, tipping needs to happen when something unusual calls for it. It’s not what you need to do every day, but it’s what you should do when it’s the right thing to do. If you feel like tipping, there are few contractors who are going to say ‘no’ to the extra money.

What to Consider

If I do want to tip a contractor, I’ve got to be fairly cognizant of a few different things. I need to know who the tip is going to, how much I’m going to tip, and when to give the contractor the tip. All three of these factors are important when giving the gratuity.

Who to tip?

The ‘who’ is probably the easiest part of the whole thing. If you’re going to tip, give the tip directly to the person who did the outstanding job. If there’s a large crew working, it might be better to give the tip to the foreman or the head contractor to give to his or her employee.

Yes, there’s some risk with that last tactic. You should definitely only do this if you trust that the money will go to the right person.

If your contractor is actually worth working with, though, you shouldn’t have to worry about him or her being honest when you hand over a tip for part of the crew.

How much to tip?

Figuring out how much to tip is a little more difficult. You probably don’t want to slip a dollar bill to a contractor – not only does he or she make a lot more than that per hour, but a one-dollar tip is pretty insulting.

Instead, try to think about what the contractor did to get the tip.

If you’re thanking the contractor for a little something extra, you’re going to look in the fifty dollars to a few hundred range. You’re not tipping a delivery driver for quick service – you’re tipping a contractor for doing more than he or she needed to do.

If you can’t afford to tip that much, a simple ‘thank you’ will probably be taken in a more friendly manner.

When to tip?

Finally, you’ve got to look at timing. If you’re tipping one member of a large crew, don’t do it in front of everyone. Find a time when you can talk to that person or their supervisor alone.

Don’t interrupt a contractor to give him or her a tip. This is going to slow him or her down and might end up costing the contractor money, so just wait.

Give the contractor a tip when the job is done or when the particular service has been rendered in order to express thanks while staying out of the way.

If you absolutely feel like you have to give a general tip, it’s not a bad idea to give it to the contractor when the whole job is done. This can be looked at as a bonus for a job well-done and a great way of expressing how you feel.

It’s not necessary, but the timing definitely works out!


No, you don’t have to give your contractor a tip. Not only is it something that is going to feel a little weird to all involved, but it’s also something that just isn’t done in normal circumstances.

Give your contractor a tip if he or she does something above and beyond the call of duty, but it’s otherwise not a necessity.

Related to the thought of tipping, is whether or not a contractor should use your bathroom that I cover in another article.

Lindsay Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! I created this website to be a resource for everyone who wants to make the best home possible.