How to Find a Home Remodeling Contractor

Finding a home remodeling contractor – what to look for and scams to avoid Finding a qualified, reliable contractor is the most important aspect of a successful home remodeling project. It’s not as simple as looking in the phone book and hiring the first contractor that will come to your home for an estimate. Contractors vary in experience, professionalism, availability and most importantly – cost. Whether your remodeling project is adding new kitchen cabinets or a whole new room to your home, it is very important to do your research on the contractors you contact. Researching can save you many headaches and hundreds of dollars (maybe even thousands!).

For any project – get at least 3 estimates or “bids.” It is always surprising to see how 3 contractors can completely differ in prices for the same project! Make sure all three contractors are giving you estimates on the same level and quality of work. If your telling one remodeling contractor one thing, and the next another, they won’t compare in price.

Prior to hiring, ask the contractor(s) to see a copy of their contractors’ license and certificate of insurance. Many contractors do not have it or have let their policies expire, even though most states require that they carry property damage, worker’s compensation, and personal liability insurance with them. You could be held liable for an injured worker or damage to a neighbors home if you hire a contractor without proper insurance coverage and licenses.

Check the contractors’ local references. Many times a contractor will think he did a good job on a remodeling project and use a customer as a reference, only to find out later that the customer felt differently about the outcome of the job. When calling references, ask if they were satisfied with the outcome, ask if the contractor started and finished on time, ask if there was good communication.

It is very important that you are cautious when hiring someone to work on your home – it may be your most valuable asset. Never consider the look of an ad an indication of the quality of work they achieve. If possible, ask around your neighborhood to see who other people might have used for the same remodeling project. Make sure you get at least 3 bids with written estimates. Ask about pricing if you can’t understand why one contractor varies so drastically from another. Don’t automatically hire the contractor with the lowest bid for the project. Remember you get what you pay for, that contractor may be cheap for a reason, or maybe the other 2 contractors overpriced the estimate. That is why it is important to do your research.

There are different kinds of contractors you may work with depending on the size of your remodeling project:

General Contractors – General contractors may also work with designers and architects. They manage the hiring and supervising of subcontractors, attain necessary building permits, schedule inspections, and take care of all aspects of the project.
Specialty Contractors – specialty contractors install products such as new cabinets, tile, and bathroom fixtures.
Architects – architects design large projects like a new wing of the home, or other similar major renovations. Any project involving structural changes to your home, should contact an architect who specializes in home remodeling.
• Designer – Designers are good to hire for specific areas of the home such as the kitchen and baths.
• Design/Build Contractors- Design/Build Contractors have architects on staff and/or use other certified designers to assist them in the whole process of your remodeling project.

Avoid being scammed by unlawful contractors. Here are some tips to save you from being ripped off. Be very weary of contractors who:
• Only accepts cash as a form of payment
• Asks YOU to get the building permits
• Does not complete a contract in its’ entirety – NEVER sign a contract if it is not completely filled out!
• Offers you a discount if you can find other customers for them
• Has materials left over from a previous remodeling project
• Gets clients by door-to-door soliciting
• Does not have a business phone number listed in the local or city directory.
• Refers to your job as a “demonstration”
• Puts pressure on you to come to an immediate decision. Especially if the contractor mentions they cannot do the job for you if you do not let them know your decision by a certain date.
• Offers long guarantees on their work – i.e. – a guarantee that sounds too good to be true
• Asks you to pay in FULL upfront. NEVER pay more than a down payment. Only pay in full after all debris has been cleared from the job site and the remodeling project is completed in its entirety.
• Suggests for you to borrow money from a home improvement loan lender that the contractor knows. This is a red flag, you could lose your home through a home improvement loan scam.