5 handy ways to save on home rehab
For major jobs, you may need to hire a contractor to oversee the project. If so, nail down the specifics of what you want before hammering out a contract. That means listing details, including costs, about every product down to paint, lighting and brand names of the appliances you expect to be installed.
"You have to do some homework and define what you want, so that when you get bids, you'll be comparing apples and apples," Lew says. Consumer Reports warns homeowners not to sign a contract with a lot of open-ended amounts for products and materials, and ask for a list of previous customers and call them.
Get estimates from at least three contractors, but remember that cheaper isn't necessarily better. They may be using inferior materials or simply low-balling the bid to get the job.
Consumer Reports adds that you should never make the final payment until you have received waivers and releases from all subcontractors and suppliers. That way, you don't get slapped with a lien in the event the general contractor didn't pay them.