Before hiring a reputable remodeling contractor to supervise your renovation project, you would be wise to inform yourself of just what sort of criteria is required to designate someone as ‘qualified’ from within the remodeling industry.
Like most professionals, the vast majority of contractors are honest, hard-working men and women who want to provide a good service at a rate that’s reasonable for both the client, and themselves.
There are, however, those individuals who would be less than honest in their dealings with you in regard to your remodeling project. Especially one with a big dollar amount.
In your evaluation, look for tell-tale signs that will give you some indication that either they are simply not qualified (no real experience), under-funded (general personal appearance/condition of vehicle/no tools to speak of), or just plain dishonest (vague work history/overall negative reputation).
Remodeling Contractor Candidates: What to Look For
Have they done any work in the nearby area where you can see what they’ve done? If so, politely ask the owners how they felt about the experience with the remodeling contractor. What did the work look like? Are they dependable? Trustworthy?
Check the local Better Business Bureau (BBB) to inquire of their status, and if there have been any complaints filed against them.
Make sure they have at least a minimal liability coverage ($500,000). If a remodeling contractor has employees or other subcontractors, ask if they have worker’s comp insurance coverage. It would certainly come in handy if an accident was sustained while working on your job. If you’re not sure what to do, give your insurance agent a call, and have them give you advice on how to proceed with any insurance-related questions you have.
Does the contractor have the ability to obtain permits? In municipalities and cities around the country, permits are required in even slight modification with respect to the structural support of the house. Most states around the country require contractors to be certified in some way before they can have the priviledge of obtaining a permit. Usually, a contractor will have to attend yearly on-going training classes pertaining to all manner of construction, safety, and other related fields for retaining any license and/or certification.
Does he/she present themselves in a professional manner? Does their vehicle look clean and respectable as well? Can they speak to you in a clear, concise manner, and in way you can understand when discussing the particulars of the remodeling aspects? You will be dealing with this person very closely for a considerable amount of time. You need to feel comfortable with him/her at a high level.
Down Payment Requirements
Be very wary of anyone who asks you for a lot of money up front. Never enter into a contract whereby you put down 50% of the total project cost. A reasonable down-payment would be 15% to 25%, followed by preset (agreed-upon) draws.
‘Get it in writing’, as they say. And good advice it is to get all estimates, change orders (a change from your original plan), invoicing, and guarantees in written form, specifying in detail what the scope of the job will be, and for how much. You can even negotiate a reasonable specified time allotment that you feel the job should take
And lastly, in case of an emergency, will you have the ability to get in contact with the contractor (at any time of the day or night) should the need arise. The last thing you would need is for some unforeseen disaster to happen, only to hear a recorded voice say that so-and-so ‘can’t come to the phone right now’ ….
Depending on the size of your remodeling project, you could spend a lot of time with a remodeling contractor, so be prepared to do a little research beforehand. Many people become stressed out because of lack of communication between the client and the remodeling contractor over issues ranging from the (seemingly) mundane, to the very important. Demand that the lines of communication stay open and clear at all times.