The 5 Home Projects Workers You Should Tip, and the 2 You Can Skip

published Dec 20, 2022
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These days, it seems like the question of tipping is everywhere. It used to be that a simple jar was placed next to a cash register if you wanted to give a shop a few dollars over your initial total — showing your occasional gratitude — but now that tipping options pop up on a variety of electronic purchases, it can be tough to know what to do. After all, no one wants to be the person who doesn’t tip when it’s expected, but you also don’t want to feel guilt-tripped into the practice when it isn’t actually necessary, either.

So while you’re thinking about all of the confusing ways tipping has complicated your transactions, here’s one realm where you don’t have to worry: home renovations. 

“Tipping a contractor who has gone above and beyond can be a nice gesture, but tipping isn’t expected or necessary in the renovation space,” says Mallory Micetich, home expert at Angi. “Most contractors are paid hourly, so there is no need to tip unless you feel compelled to do so.”

Beth Pointer, the owner of Done Construction and a member of Matriarchy Build, adds that tips are always appreciated, and the amount is up to the homeowner. “You absolutely don’t have to tip anyone who does not finish the project successfully, leaves a big mess, or is disrespectful to you or your home in any way,” she notes. “But tipping when the project is on time and under budget is a no brainer.”

That’s good to know, but what other rules should be followed? Read on to learn who to tip, who not to tip, and who deserves regular pats on the back for doing their best in this tip-obsessed time (answer: you).

The General Rule of Tipping

Because knowing when to tip and when not to tip has become as layered as a season of “White Lotus,” here’s a general rule to follow: If you know the work is hard, long, and requires expertise, you’ll probably be better off giving at least 10 percent more than the total bill.

“While tipping isn’t necessary for professionals you might only hire once or twice a year, it can be a great way to show appreciation when your contractor completes a multi-month project, finishes a job ahead of schedule, works through extreme weather conditions, fixes a particularly difficult problem, or provides additional services not listed in the contract,” Micetich says. 

You may also be compelled to tip if you know that the person you hired is part of a local business, Micetich continues, or are people that you work with continually. “I think it is a good idea to consider tipping professionals that you hire on a semi-regular basis, like landscapers or cleaners, since they are providing a regular service.” How you determine that tipping schedule is up to you.

If you’d rather have concrete numbers to remember in these types of scenarios, Pointer offers this rule of thumb. “I would say to tip no less than 10 percent in jobs that are smaller than $300,” she notes. “For larger jobs, sometimes a $20 note to everyone working on the crew one day will go a long way.”

Who to Tip and How Much

When it comes to tipping, the rules depend on a few different factors — much like the difference between how much money you leave for a drip coffee versus a complicated cocktail. If you’d like to offer a tip, here’s what Micetich advises for the most common jobs:

Handy people: “I recommend tipping handy people between $10 and $20 an hour for exceptional service,” Micetich says. This could mean having the right tools immediately on hand, completing the project swiftly, and cleaning up well once the job is through.

Painters and interior designers: “If your painters, decorators, or interior designers went above and beyond for your project, consider adding an additional 10 to 15 percent of the project cost as a tip,” Micetich notes. Going “above and beyond” can look like sifting through hundreds of paint samples with you, adding fresh coats to a room in record time, or hauling a rare chair they found on Facebook Marketplace to your home themselves. 

Plumbers and electricians: On the whole, plumbers and electricians don’t expect tips, Micetich says. But if you’re feeling grateful for work done on a tight timeline or over a holiday, it’s a nice gesture. “If you do choose to tip your plumber or electrician, you can do so by adding 10 to 15 percent to the project cost,” she adds.

Landscapers: If your landscapers have a team to mow grass, rake leaves, and generally leave your yard looking immaculate, then Micetich has this to say: “Tip each landscaping crew member $10 to $20.”

House cleaners: In regard to house cleaners, Micetich has the same rule. “If you’re hiring house cleaners for a post-renovation cleaning, consider tipping $10 to $20 per person,” she says.

Movers: And if the days of hiring your friends to move your furniture and paying them in pizza are long gone, follow this advice. I recommend tipping movers anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of the total cost,” Micetich says. 

Exactly When to Tip

Pointer already mentioned that it’s best to tip when a project is finished on time and under budget, but perhaps you’re thinking about all of the other factors that play into how a job gets done. What happens then? Here are various situations when Pointer suggests tipping: “I would tip any time work was done in off-hours, any time the team went above and beyond to protect the homeowner’s space and sanity, any time projects exceeded expectations, and if a tradesperson unexpectedly had an accident on the job,” she says. 

And a final word on how to tip, in case that’s also a question (like, say, if you’re thinking of “tipping” in coffee and muffins one morning): “Cash will always be queen, but a gift card for coffee for everyone on the team on the first day of a project feels great,” Pointer says. “Don’t be afraid to be generous with the folks that you have trusted your home with.”