Hiring a professional
You want to feel
good about who you work with; after all, you are inviting them into your home,
often for days at a time.
"It's so different from
new-home building, where many times you never meet the home builder," she
says. "With remodeling, this guy is going to live in your house, they're
going to disrupt your life, they're going to turn off your electricity, they're
going to take your dog in and out of the house if you're working. You've got to
be extremely comfortable with that person."
you have a short list of candidates, check out their business credentials. Are
they licensed, bonded and insured? How long have they been in business? Any complaints
against them with the Better Business Bureau or your state's attorney general?
Are they certified by, or members of, professional trade organizations?
Next, call their local references. Did they start on time? Complete on time? Did
they meet all terms of their contract? Did they make good on their warranty after
the project was completed?
Make sure you see a valid insurance
certificate before choosing any tradesperson, Burchett says.
a big issue in this industry because people are out there underbidding the next
guy because they don't carry liability insurance and workers' comp and therefore
they can cut their prices," she says. "The roofing industry is well-known
for being uninsured."
Once you've identified your finalists,
each will visit your home to discuss the project in detail, then return with a
"Make sure you get bids on the same scope and quality
of work, because you can install a $99 sink and you can install a $599 sink,"
In addition to the bottom line, make sure your
remodel contract includes the tradesperson's complete name, address and license
number; start and completion date; complete list of materials to be used; your
right to review and approve plans; warranties (one year is standard for additions)
and how payments will be handled.
Some professionals ask for a
minimal deposit, others for anywhere from
one-third to one-half up front depending on
the size of the job or the materials they
must purchase. As a rule of thumb, don't prepay
so much that it removes their incentive to
complete the job in a timely fashion.
When in doubt, have a lawyer review the contract
before signing. (Conversely, by inserting an arbitration clause, you may save
yourself costly lawyer fees should disagreements occur during construction.)