You’ve put a lot of time and energy into planning your home remodel. Have you done the same for the person who will actually do the work? While most contractors are legitimate, it’s important to do your research before hiring anyone to handle this large investment in your home and who will be in and around your house every day for an extended period.
Take Names or References from People You Trust
A good place to start is with family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Ask them what remodeling contractors they’ve used and whether they would use them again. Also find out the type of projects done so you’re comparing similar work. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry can provide a list of its members in your area. Your local building inspector will know the contractors that keep to code requirements, and the area lumberyard will know which ones buy quality materials and pay on time.
Don’t be afraid to interview your potential remodeler. You are their next potential employer so you have a right to inquire. Among the most important things to know are licensure status, quality certifications, and whether they hold active policies for worker’s compensation and liability insurance.
You can generally start with a phone interview and then choose a few to meet in-person and discuss things further.
Examine a Job in Progress
If possible, visit a current job where the contractor is working. You want to see a job site that is safe and neat, with workers who are careful with the homeowner’s property and courteous to family members. This often reveals more than the answers to any questions you ask.
Ask for the names of the remodeler’s past customers. (If the contractor is reluctant to provide these, find a different person to hire.) When you contact previous clients, ask about their satisfaction with the work and if you can go see the finished job. Find out if the project was completed on time. Were there were any unexpected costs or problems during the project and if so what were they? Absolutely ask whether the client would recommend this contractor and use them again, as this will speak volumes.
Avoid Disreputable Contractors
There are some ways to spot a less-than-honest remodeling contractor. Never work with anyone who:
- Comes to your door looking for work
- Has a truck full of materials from a previous job
- Only accepts cash
- Doesn’t have a business number in the phone book
- Pressures you to decide on the spot
- Asks that you pay for the whole job up-front
- Requests that you get the necessary building permits
- Suggests your borrowing money from the contractor’s lender — this could be a home improvement loan scam which might cost you your home
Since your home is your most important investment, it’s worth every minute of effort you’ll spend finding the right person to complete your home remodeling job.