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Ask the Experts

TIPS

Calling References

As with any service or product that you buy, check references. Here are just a few questions to ask previous customers:

  • Could they communicate well with the remodeler?
  • Do they have pictures of the “before” and “after” that they don’t mind sharing with you?
  • Were they satisfied with how the remodeler handled the administrative and business aspects of the project?
  • Were there any issues with tardiness?
  • Were they comfortable with skilled working professionals?
  • Was the job completed on schedule?
  • Was the contract fulfilled?
  • How was the communication? Proactive? Ongoing throughout the process?
  • Were the final details finished in a timely manner?
  • Would you use the remodeler again without hesitation?
  • Was the job site kept clean during the project?
  • Was the remodeler professional, ethical, honest and fair throughout the process?
  • Did the remodeler manage the overall project and process in such a way to ensure your satisfaction?
  • Did any issues arise during the project? And if so, how did the remodeler handle them?
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Selecting a Professional, Reliable, Remodeling Contractor

Here are some tips to make the selection process easier and to help prepare you to make an informed decision that best suits your needs.

  • Select a contractor with an established business in your area.
  • Check references from past customers or through the local better business bureau.
  • Many states, but not all, require contractors to be licensed and or bonded. Contact your state or local licensing agencies to ensure the contractor meets all requirements.
  • Ask the remodeling contractor for a current copy of their license.
  • Check with the government Consumer Affairs Office and the Better Business Bureau to ensure there are no complaints on record for the contractor.
  • Ask to see a copy of the remodeling contractor’s certification of insurance for the name of his or her insurance agency to verify coverage. (Most states require a contractor to carry worker’s compensation, property damage and personal liability insurance). Make sure the contractor’s insurance coverage meets all the minimum requirements.
  • If you solicit bids from several different home improvement contractors, be sure they are bidding on the same scope and quality of work. Be sure to compare “apples to apples”.

Of the many questions you can ask during an interview, the most important question is one you must ask yourself: “Do I feel comfortable with and trust the person I am about to hire?” Your answer to that question should make the hiring decision a little easier.

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In the Interview Process, It’s Time to Turn and Walk Away When…

  •  You can’t verify the name, address, telephone number or credentials of the remodeler.
  • The salesperson tries to pressure you into signing a contract on the spot.
  • The company or salesperson says your home will be used for advertising purposes so you will be given a “special, low rate.”
  • The builder/remodeler tells you a special price is available only if you sign the contract “today.”
  • No references are furnished.
  • Information you receive from the contractor is out-of-date or no longer valid.
  • You are unable to verify the license or insurance information.
  • You are asked to pay for the entire job in advance, or to pay in cash to a salesperson instead of by check or money order to the company itself.
  • The company cannot be found in the telephone book, is not listed with the local Better Business Bureau, or with a local trade association, such as NARI.
  • The contractor does not offer, inform or extend notice of your right to cancel the contract within three days. Notification in writing of your Right of Recision is required by law. This grace period allows you to change your mind and declare the contract null and void without penalty (if the agreement was solicited at some place other than the contractor’s place of business or appropriate trade premises-in your home, for instance.)

In addition, be cautious when:

  • You are given vague or reluctant answers.
  • The contractor exhibits poor communication skills or descriptive powers.
  • The contractor is not accessible.
  • Your questions are not answered to your satisfaction.
  • The contractor is impatient and does not listen.
  • Only the work is addressed, instead of your needs as the homeowner.
  • There is no way to see previous projects, either through a presentation book, an online presentation or via the company’s Web presence.
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When to Hire These Types of Professionals (Adapted from the nari.org website)

  • The General Contractor
  • The Architect
  • The Designer
  • The Design/Build Contractor

The General Contractor:

  • When projects do not require professional design services and can best be handled by the experienced remodeling contractor.
  • When you have had your project designed by an architect or designer and you now need someone to manage the construction of those designs.

FOR DESIGN SERVICES

The Architect:

  • When major remodeling projects require construction drawings for the purposes of defining a contract and procuring permits.

The Designer:

  • Designers may have expertise in specific areas of the home such as kitchens, interiors, baths, space design, etc. They often specialize in particular types of projects and may be the best choice for a targeted remodeling project.

The Design/Build Contractor:

  • If you prefer to hire only one company for design and construction services, your best bet may be to hire a design/build firm. They provide both quality design and construction services within the same general contracting company. A design/build contractor will be able to see your project through from start to finish, keeping design, engineering and budget in mind. Some design/build firms have architects on staff, others use certified designers.

 

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