Remodeling your home gives you an opportunity to add value, improve functionality and increase the beauty and enjoyment for years to come. With all the decisions to make - materials, colors, flooring, furnishings - the most important decision you'll make is your contractor. The right contractor will streamline the building process, deliver high quality work and save you hours of work.
Understand the Players
When planning your home renovation, you may be working with a wide range of people.
With any potential craftsperson, it's important to thoroughly discuss your needs, review their portfolios and references so you can examine the quality of work, and make an informed decision.
- Architect - The architect designs the plans and creates a list of material specifications. He or she can also provide references for contractors who can implement your home renovation.
- General contractor - The general contractor oversees the entire and oversees the subcontractors, such as electrical, plumbing, painting, or roofing. Some contractors can help with planning and designing your renovation, while others do only the actual renovation work.
- Interior designer - The interior designer can help plan your rooms to make them more functional and can solve space problems, as well as give your home a whole new look.
- Design/build contractor - A design/build contractor sees the renovation job through start to finish. Design/build contractors usually work in conjunction with an architect or interior designer to help with the planning and designing phase.
What to Look Out For
While most contractors are honest, hardworking people, there can be potential scams and rip-off artists. Beware of a contractor who:
- Demands or only accepts cash
- Is high pressure
- Wants you to pay for everything up-front
- Tries to influence where you get your renovation loan
Interviewing your potential contractor is the first step in making your decision on who to trust with your home renovation. Be sure to ask following questions:
As with most things, the lowest price isn't always the best value. Weigh your decision carefully when choosing your contractor. Consider a number of variables: price, experience, time frame, references. In the end, you want to choose the person who can do the highest quality work on your home with minimal headaches.
- What are your credentials?
- Do you have a portfolio of previous projects?
- Will I need permits for this project?
- Do you have references?
- Does this project require subcontractors?
- How long will the project take to be completed?
Call the Better Business Bureau
Just as important as checking customer references, place a call to your local Better Business Bureau (BBB) to see if they have any information about the contractor you are considering. You’ll want to find out the contractor’s standing with the agency and if any complaints have been made against the company. You can contact the BBB at (703) 276-0100 or www.bbb.org.
Review insurance coverage
Worker’s compensation and liability insurance are a must for any contractor. Ask to see a copy of the contractor’s certificate of insurance and then call the carrier to guarantee that the insurance is still in place. Again, it may seem like a lot of work to do up front, but you’ll rest assured that you’re working with a reputable contractor.
Work out a payment schedule
Avoid any company that requires you to pay the full amount of the project before beginning work. Terms should be 10% or $1,000 whichever is less for a deposit; 80% upon completion of the work; and the remaining 10% when the job passes inspection.
Find a Local, Experienced Contractor
In addition to asking friends and families for recommendations, click here to contact a local, licensed and reliable contractor in your area.
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