Hiring A Contractor

When you undertake a home improvement project, there are dozens of decisions to be made. The most important decision is choosing the right contractor. The company you choose will be permanently altering your most important possession: your home. Remodeling is one decision that requires you to look beyond the lowest price and consider the reputation and reliability of the company providing the services.

Finding a qualified professional remodeling contractor does not have to be a difficult task. By following these guidelines you will make the selection process easier and be better prepared to make an informed decision that best suites your needs.

Employ a contractor with an established business in your area. Local firms can be checked through references from past customers in your community. Local remodelers are compelled to perform satisfactory work for their business to survive.

Many states, but not all, require contractors to be licensed and/or bonded. Contact your state or local licensing agencies to ensure the contractor meets all requirements.

Check the remodeling contractor with the Better Business Bureau to ensure there is no adverse file on record.

Ask to see a copy of the contractor's certificate of insurance or the name of his or her insurance agency to verify coverage. Most states require a contractor to carry worker's compensation, property damage and personal liability insurance.

Make sure the contractor's insurance coverage meets all the minimum requirements. If you solicit bids from several different contractors, be sure they are bidding on the same scope and quality of work. Discuss variations in bids and beware of any bid that is substantially lower than the others.

Warning Signs

Avoid remodelers at all costs when:

You can not verify the name, address, telephone number or credentials of the remodeler.

The salesperson tries to pressure you into signing a contract.

The builder/remodeler tells you a special price is available only if you sign the contract "today."

No references are furnished.

Information you receive from the contractor is out-of-date or no longer valid.

You are unable to verify the license or insurance information.

You are asked to pay for the entire job in advance, or to pay in cash to a salesperson instead of by check or money order to the company itself.

The company cannot be found in the telephone book or is not listed with the local Better Business Bureau.

The contractor does not offer, inform or extend notice of your right to cancel the contract within three days. Notification in writing of your Right of Recision is required by law. This grace period allows you to change your mind and declare the contract null and void without penalty (if the agreement was solicited at some place other than the contractor's place of business or appropriate trade premises-in your home, for instance.)

In addition, be cautious when:

You are given vague or reluctant answers.

The contractor exhibits poor communication skills or descriptive powers.

The contractor is not accessible.

Your questions are not answered to your satisfaction.

The contractor is impatient and does not listen.

Only the work is addressed, instead of your needs as the homeowner.

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