When it comes to choosing a remodeling contractor, it's sometimes hard to figure out the "good guys" from the "bad guys." In order for your next remodeling project to meet your expectations, use this guide as an informational tool helping you to avoid the scams and unscrupulous tactics that are rife within the home improvement industry.
SECRET #1 - Avoid The Two Biggest Misconceptions About Remodeling
Misconception #1: Taking a contractor's word simply at face value.
Request to see all claims in writing. Believing simply what a contractor tells you can be a costly mistake. If a contractor claims to be a member of a particular organization, there is certainly nothing wrong with asking to see proof. Hearsay is not admissible in a court of law, and so should be the case when it comes to dealing with your biggest investment - your home.
Misconception #2: Going with the lowest price saves you money.
This statement is not necessarily true. Everyone wants three things when making a purchase: 1) Low Price, 2) Best Quality, and 3) Best Service. It's nearly impossible to get all three. As the old adage goes, "You can't get something for nothing." Before accepting a low price, consider the level of service involved, the type of company you are choosing, the design of your project, and the specifications of your project. Price should always be weighed, but value is always the more important consideration.
SECRET #2 - Elude High Pressure Sales
Beware of high pressure tactics; they are intended to get you to sign a contract immediately. A good deal of skepticism is recommended for any offer that states, "You must sign now!" If you are offered a limited time special, ask for documentation or samples of flyers stating to that effect. Legitimate companies make legitimized "limited time only" offers.
SECRET #3 - Beware Of Door-To-Door Handymen
These people may not be contractors at all. Never allow them into your home until you have checked them out thoroughly. Even if they turn out to be real contractors, door-to-door contractors are notorious for providing incomplete or sub-par work. There is no real savings if you spend your time tracking down a contractor to finish the job, or, worse yet, you must hire another contractor to correct the other's inferior work.
SECRET #4 - Ask These Questions Before Hiring Any Contractor
"Are you licensed?" Make sure your contractor is deemed by your state to have the proficiency and knowledge to work on your home.
"Do you carry general liability insurance?" This type of insurance protects your property in case of damage caused by the contracting company.
"Do you carry workman's compensation insurance?" This insurance protects you from liability if a worker is injured while on your property. Some contractors claim that your homeowners insurance will sufficiently cover them. This statement is simply not true. In most cases, your homeowners insurance excludes injuries sustained by hired workers.
"Are you a member of the Better Business Bureau or any other building association?" Conscientious contractors usually belong to multiple associations. These associations investigate contractors' backgrounds and references as well. Therefore, undesirable contractors are usually weeded out of these organizations.
"Will you pull the required permits?" A reputable contractor will pull a permit on every job where one is required. Some contractors may ask you to pull your own permit. This could be a warning sign that the contractor is not licensed to do the specified work. In addition, some insurance companies will not cover work that is done without a proper permit.
"Do you guarantee your work?" This one is simple. If a contractor can't guarantee it, then don't buy it.
"How do you handle your clean-up?" A clean work site is fundamental to a smooth remodeling project. Your contractor should dispose of any debris at the end of each day. Your home should be left "broom swept."
Feel smarter? Hopefully so.
Now, you should be properly prepared to solicit estimates for your upcoming project. Best of luck with your remodeling plans!