Selecting a Contractor
Finding a qualified, professional remodeling contractor need not be a difficult or unpleasant task. By following these basic guidelines, you will not only make the selection process easier, but also you will be more prepared to make an informed decision that best suits your needs.
Selecting a Qualified Remodeler – Employ a contractor with an established business in your local area. Local firms can be checked through past customers. They are tax-paying members of your community and are compelled to perform satisfactory work for local homeowners in order for their business to survive. Check the remodeling contractor with the Better Business Bureau to see if there is an adverse file or record. Ask for local homeowner references and follow up on them. Call the references; ask if they were satisfied will all aspects of the contractor’s performance. Ask to see the finished projects. Solicit two or three bids for the work you need and do not blindly accept the lowest. Ask a contractor why the bid is so low, or so high. Sometimes a higher price may be worth the cost of better quality materials. Make sure you have a thorough understanding of all materials to be used.
Proper Planning Is Important – Think your project through from start to finish. Your home represents a large investment. Its proper care and maintenance is essential. Your home must suit your present needs as well as your lifestyle. Carefully plan your home improvements so you can update your home, increase the value of your investment, and customize your living space-all for a lot less than the cost of a new house. Look over your property carefully. What repairs are needed? What improvements would you like? Think ahead and determine your future needs. Do you need an additional bedroom, a refurbished bath or a modern kitchen? Professional remodeling contractors can help you in your planning by outlining options and discussing the improvements you can make within your budget.
Think About Design and Function – Design and function should be foremost in your mind if you’re thinking of adding a room or converting an existing room. Determine the need and location. Would you like an added room to perform more than one function? Would you like your basement to be a family room or workroom? Would you like a greenhouse adjacent to your kitchen? Will your furniture fit in your new living room? Draw a simple floor plan using graph paper and patterns of your furniture cut to scale. Then lay out your room arrangement. Be sure to keep in mind traffic areas, a center of interest, furniture groupings, storage space, and adequate lighting. A professional remodeling contractor should be consulted about design and function of any remolding project. He also can help you with time- and money-saving hints.
Detailed Specifications Are A Must – The professional prepares a comprehensive plan carefully estimating costs based on material and labor specifications. A reputable remodeling contractor will not give you a sketchy proposal hastily drawn on the back of an envelope. Study all plans carefully when they are required for your remodeling job. Insist that you approve them before the work begins.
Comply with Building Codes and Permits – Building codes are established by most cities, towns and counties and vary considerably from one jurisdiction to another. A building permit generally is required whenever structural work is involved or when the basic living area of a home is to be changed. For example, if you have a home with an unfinished basement, and would like to finish off a portion of it for a family room, you would need a building permit in most jurisdictions because you have changed the basic amount of living space in your house from storage space to “livable” space. The complex details of local building codes and permits are familiar details to a professional remodeling contractor. A professional works in your city or town every day and knows the local requirements. You pay any fee required by your municipality and are responsible for penalties resulting from any failure to file required permits.
A Well-Written Contract is Essential – Detail what the contractor will and won’t do-such as protection of your household goods surrounding the job site and daily clean-up or clean-up upon completion of the job. Since this is an additional labor cost for the contractor, it may slightly raise the cost of your job, but it is well worth the price. Specify all materials. Your contractor should detail a list of all materials for the project in your contract. This includes size, color, weight, model, brand name, quantity, and product. Understand the financial terms.
Payment Terms – Be sure not to give large up front deposits to the contractor in at the time the contract is signed or in advance of them beginning and completing at least some of the work to be performed. Many contractors will state that the deposit is necessary to secure a scheduling position on their calendar or to purchase needed materials so that work can begin. Qualified Professional contractors should not require up front payments. Structured payments at specific milestones in the project are acheived should be agreed upon before work begins.
Working with a Professional Contractor – Be sure to put all changes in writing if the scope or complexity of your remodeling project is modified while work is being done. Both parties should agree upon the amendment. Ask your professional contractor to provide certification of insurance covering workers’ compensation, property damage, and personal liability. This certificate of insurance should list coverage and specifically name you as an insured. It is quickly and easily available from their insurance agent or company with a quick phone call.
Financing Your Remodeling Project – You may wish to obtain financing for your remodeling project. There are various financing plans readily available to homeowners, many of which base loan amounts on equity in the home, or other assets. Your local professional remodeling contractor is familiar with many of the financing options available, and can often help you arrange the financing you need.