Are you among the growing number of home owners who are choosing to remodel their homes to fit their changing needs, rather than selling their home and buying another one? If so, you’ll soon learn that even simple remodels can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. With that type of investment on the line, it’s important to find a contractor you can trust.
As the home building and remodeling industry celebrates National Home Remodeling Month in May, here are the top five tips to ensure you make the right decisions when you find, evaluate and hire a remodeler.
1. Always Go with a Pro
The best place to start is the Directory of Professional Remodelers at nahb.org/remodelerdirectoryor contact the Northwest Arkansas Home Builders Association. A professional remodeler will uphold the highest professional and ethical standards in the industry. These sources can also help you find a remodeler who specializes in a specific type of remodeling if you need it, such as a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) to help modify your home to better suit you as you age, or a Certified Green Remodeler (CGP) to make your home more energy-efficient.
Look at the prospective remodeler’s company website and social media accounts to see photos of their work. Visit review sites like HomeAdvisor, Houzz, Angie’s List, etc., to see more pictures and to read reviews of remodeling companies. Take the good with the bad when reading online reviews and focus on the descriptions of experiences and qualities that are most important to you as a customer. Ask for referrals from friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, and others who have had remodeling work done on comparable homes under similar schedules.
3. Create Your Short List
Once you have a list of potential home remodelers for your project, do a little more background research to verify that they are appropriately licensed and have a good business track record. Look them up with your local or state office of consumer protection. Verify that the remodeler has the appropriate licenses and registrations.
4. Start Taking Notes
When you begin meeting with remodelers, you want to find out information such as:
- How long they have been in business in your community? Can they provide references from customers and suppliers they work with?
- Do they carry insurance that protects you from claims arising from property damage or job site injuries? Ask for a copy of the insurance certificates.
- What is their working knowledge of the many types and ages of homes in the area, and what sort of issues could arise?
- Do they arrange for the building permit? (The person who obtains the permit is the contractor of record and therefore liable for the work)
- Do they provide a written estimate before beginning the work, and a detailed contract that spells out the work that will and will not be performed, protects both of you, provides a fair payment schedule contract and complies with local, state, and federal laws?
5. Trust Your Instincts
Make sure you are compatible with the contractor you select. Beginning your project with mutual expectations will go a long way towards a smooth remodel. You’ll spend a lot of time with your remodeler so it’s important to have a good rapport and trust in him or her.
For more detailed checklists for finding, evaluating and working with a remodeler, as well as other information about remodeling your home, go to nahb.org/remodeling.