Year after year remodeling contractors consistently rank second in top consumer complaints – only after a myriad of automobile deceptions and misrepresentations.
Tens of thousands of dissatisfied homeowners reporting to agencies – ranging from the Better Business Bureau to hundreds of personal finance studies – note shoddy work, failure to start or finish jobs on time, and failure to have required licensing as common problems.
However, when total cost and ease of ability to correct problems are taken into consideration, remodeling and home improvements soar to number one for consumer complaints as problems may not only affect one’s bank account but also can affect the ability to live in the home.
So how do smart homeowners protect themselves? Here’s what they ask for:
- Experience: “How long have you been in this business?”
Contractors who have been in business for many years have developed tried-and-true systems for staying on time and in budget. The bigger the project the more important this becomes. There is no substitute for experience.
- Credentials: “Do you have a Contractor’s License?”
Make sure the contractor you’re considering has the required state license for their field of expertise and that it is in good standing. You can vet contractors at www.cslb.ca.gov. You don’t want to hire a licensed roofer to remodel your kitchen. Also, a city business license alone doesn’t mean that they are a licensed contractor. – though they should have one of those too!
- Estimate: “Will you provide me with a detailed estimate?”
Costly mistakes generally involve missing key items and underestimating the time it will take to complete a project. Experienced pros have precise estimating tools that eliminate “guesstimates.” Get as much detail as possible and make sure that it becomes part of your contract.
- Contract: “Will you provide me with a fixed sum, a completion timeline, a payment schedule, and information on how change orders are handled?”
A contract should be “bilateral” meaning one that is good for both parties. While the contractor wants an iron clad payment guarantee, you should require a fixed contract sum and detailed payment schedule, firm start and completion dates, and clear info on how change orders and potential disputes will be handled.
- Permits: “Will you obtain permits and inspections for this job?”
Remodeling projects that alter the structure of your home will generally require permits and inspections. A contractor should know what is required, how to get them and agree to do so. You can verify what, if any, permits will be required by contacting your local building department.
- Insurance: “Do you have worker’s compensation and general liability insurance?”
Don’t only ask if they’re insured. Request Certificates of Insurance (liability and worker’s comp) from their carrier. Never depend on contractor-provided certificates and don’t hire a contractor who doesn’t have worker’s compensation and general liability insurance.
- References: “Do you have past clients I can talk to?”
Testimonials from satisfied customers are not only reassuring, but they are also proof that this contractor goes the extra mile to deliver as promised. Getting several references and visiting the projects will satisfy any concerns that you may have regarding the contractor’s ability and their quality of work. Don’t be afraid to ask.
- Contact: “How do we stay in touch throughout the process?”
While contractors are quick to get all of your information, you should be equally vigilant in obtaining all points of contact – phone, text, e-mail, fax, etc. Obtain contact information for designers, project managers, and company management or owners.
To explore your home improvement project, schedule a virtual or in-home design consultation with a member of the award-winning Carey Bros. Remodeling team at https://careybros.com/contact.