How to Choose a Remodeling Contractor

It takes a little legwork to find the best person for your renovation job. Here's how to handle the task.

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Remember that when you're hiring a remodeler, you are buying a service and not a product. Quality of service will determine the quality of the finished project. Here are some things you'll want to explore and questions you'll want to ask when interviewing a remodeler.

Business Experience and Management

 Does the remodeler:

  • Maintain a permanent mailing address, e-mail address, personal phone number, fax number, cell phone and voicemail?
  • Carry insurance that protects you from liability? Ask for a copy of the remodeler's insurance certificates to be sure. Also, ask the remodeler how much the project will add to the home's value and attain additional insurance from your provider.
  • Have an established presence in the community? How long has the company been in business under this name? Does the remodeler maintain solid relationships with contractors such as plumbers and electricians and work with them as a team?
  • Possess a trustworthy reputation among customers and peers? Is there a track record of success?
  • Has the remodeler earned any professional designations, such as Certified Graduate Remodeler (CGR), Certified Bath Designer (CBD), etc.? How long has the remodeler been a member or any trade organizations?
  • Get It in Writing
    After selecting a contractor, take a look at the documents he or she has prepared. Do they look professional? Scrutinize the contract. Does it seem fair and balanced? And make sure the legal agreement includes the following:

    • a bid price and payment schedule
    • specifics about the scope of work
    • the site plan
    • a sequential schedule of primary construction tasks
    • a change-order clause
    • a written procedural list for close-out
    • an express limited warranty
    • a clause about dispute resolution
    • a waiver of lien, which would prevent subcontractors and suppliers from putting a lien on a house should their invoices go unpaid by the contractor

    If everything checks out, you can sign on the dotted line with confidence.

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