Secret #1 - Avoid Common Misconceptions
- If the Better Business Bureau doesn't have any complaints against the contractor, he must be qualified. Many contractors, though they have no BBB complaints, do not do a satisfactory job (much less a superior job). To ensure you're dealing with a reputable professional, use the BBB as a starting place, not the only place. Also keep in mind, the BBB is not a government agency, and it does not keep a record on every contractor in town.
- Going with the lowest price saves you money. On a low estimate, ask yourself what is being left out. One roofer had his re-roof job $300 cheaper than anyone else. After the job was completed, all the old shingles and nails were still lying around the yard and shrubs and the homeowner was having a fit. The contractor told them that he had not figured the clean-up in his proposal, and that was how he could do the job so much cheaper.
- Doing it yourself saves money. Even as a "weekend warrior", beware of undertaking larger, more complicated projects. All too often the job is botched and it costs more to have a professional come in and fix what's been done. According to an article in the Chicago Sun Times, less than 20% of these do-it-yourself jobs work out.
- If a person claims to have many years of experience, they must do quality work. Don't believe just because a person has twenty years experience, he will do a good job. He could have done a poor job for twenty years.
Secret #2 - Common Scams
- Today only discounts. The story centers around the need to use your home as a model to advertise their services in the neighborhood. They mark their prices up just to give you this false discount. Don't be tricked into making a quick decision.
- Avoid high pressure salespeople. High pressure usually leads to a bad decision when remodeling. A qualified professional would never have to pressure anyone into a project.
- Beware of "Door-To-Door" contractors. It has been reported that two men claiming to be contractors had entered into a home and while one took the homeowner on a pretend inspection, the other guy was going through purses and picking up items that could be sold quickly. Before inviting anyone into your home, politely ask them for their business card and the name, address, and telephone number of the people they are doing work for in the neighborhood. Make an appointment with that homeowner to take a look at the quality of their work.
Secret #3 - 10 Questions to Ask Before Inviting a Contractor Into Your Home
- Are you licensed? In the State of Illinois, only specialty contractors such as plumbers, electricians, and roofers need to hold state licensing. General contractors are not licensed by the state, but are required to have a local license within village municipalities.If you live in a townhouse, villa, or high rise condominium building with four or more units, only a Building Contractor or General Contractor is permitted to perform remodeling work. If you have any questions or doubts, call your local building & zoning department.
- Do you carry general liability insurance? This type of insurance protects your property in case of damage caused by the contractor and/or his employees. Make the contractor prove it by having their insurance company fax or mail to you a certificate of insurance with you named as the certificate holder.
- Do you carry workers' compensation insurance? Workers' compensation insurance protects you from liability if a worker is injured while on your property. If the contractor is a one man operation, he can be exempt from having to carry workers' compensation insurance. But if he shows up with a helper and the helper gets hurt, with no workers' compensation insurance, you may have to pay the medical bills. It is much safer to deal with a fully insured contractor.
- Will you provide me with a written lien waiver? A lien is a legal document which says you the homeowner have paid the contractor in full for the services rendered and the contractor waives his right to place a mechanic's lien on your property. This protects you in case the contractor doesn't pay his material suppliers or subcontractors after you have paid him in full.
- Are you a member of NARI or NAHB? National Association of the Remodeling Industry and National Association of Home Builders. In most cases, both organizations only attract conscientious contractors interested in bettering the industry and in weeding out unprofessional contractors.
- Will you pull all the required building permits? When a contractor pulls the required building permits, you know things will be done to "code". Some contractors may ask you to get the permits. This could be a warning sign that they are not able to pull the permit because they are unlicensed, or the work is outside of their license.
- Do you guarantee your work? Your contractor should guarantee his work for at least one year from date of completion. Some contractors guarantee their work for two or even three years.
- Who will be in charge of the job? Make sure the contractor or his foreman is on the job whenever work is being performed - especially if sub-contractors will be used. You can't be worried about what is going on when you are not there.
- Will you provide me with written references? You should look for a well established contractor who can give you several customer references from the last 6 months to one year. Ask for the name of the contractor's accountant or banker to ensure the contractor is financially sound and won't be declaring bankruptcy in the middle of your project.
- How do you handle "dirty work"? Make sure the contractor will make an honest effort to keep dust and dirt contained, or notify you when the heavy dust generating operations will take place so you can place sheets over furniture or move sensitive belongings. Make sure the contractor agrees to sweep up and place all construction debris in a predetermined place or refuse container at the end of every day.
Secret #4 - Avoid the Biggest Homeowners Mistakes
- Listening to the wrong people. Everyone's got an opinion on what you should do with your remodeling dollars. "Do it yourself” or "Hire the sub-contractors and run the project yourself”, etc. Just because someone is your relative, friend, or thinks they know construction, doesn't mean they know the answers to your remodeling questions or problems.
- Call at least three of the references you're given. So many people start out on the right track by asking for references, but then they never call them! You can never learn too much about the company you are considering using.
- Visit the references and see example work. You can learn a lot by seeing the finished product, or see a job in progress. Chances are if a contractor keeps his work sites clean and neat, especially at the end of the day when it's time to go home, you've got a conscientious contractor.
Secret #5 - How to Tell if Your Remodeling Project Will Run Smoothly (Before You Sign the Contract)
- Good communication. If you can talk with each other, you can work out any details that come up.
- Does he return your call, page, message promptly? If your contractor is so busy that he can't return calls or pages promptly, maybe it's time to look for a new contractor. You should always feel like you are both on the same page. Choose someone who will listen to you.
- Comfort. Think about it, you've just invited a stranger into your home. You will be working with this person for a matter of days, weeks, or months depending upon the project you need completed. Can you stand to have this person around?
- Trustworthy. Keep in mind that if your project will entail entrance into your home and you won't be home during the day, the keys to your castle will be given to your contractor. Can you trust him?
- Completion. A good contractor will give you a reasonable estimate for how long the project will take to complete. Remember, you want to hire a good contractor, not get a new roommate!
- Written Proposal. You don't want a price out of thin air scribbled on the back of a business card. You want a detailed written proposal that shows what is included: exact materials, brand names where important, costs, and the payment schedule.
- Details. Talk about things like: Where will the dumpster go, or the debris pile be created? What time will construction begin in the morning? What time will construction end in the evening? Will work take place on weekends? Will workmen refrain from smoking inside the house?
- Flexibility. Remodeling is an interruption to your normal lifestyle. If your project involves the kitchen, plan on eating a few extra meals out with the kids.
- Appearance. Your contractor doesn't have to show up in a coat and tie, but neatness does count. If his appearance is neat, chances are he will keep your job neat.
- Down payment. A fair down payment should not exceed one third, unless custom ordered items are needed in the beginning stage of construction. As the work progresses, you should expect to pay out additional funds to match the prescribed, completed stages.
- Change orders. Change in material or contract items should be written on a separate document showing in detail what is being changed and how much it will cost, to be signed by both the contractor and homeowner before the change is affected.
Secret #6 - Plan Your Project With a Qualified Remodeling Expert!
Most people spend more time planning a one week vacation than they do a major remodel of their home. If you're considering a remodel in the near future, sitting down and talking with a professional remodeling expert who can help you through the "maze" of planning, not to mention all the bureaucratic "red tape" awaiting you at the building department! Someone who listens to your every concern. Someone who subscribes to the principles and "secrets" discussed above.
FREE, No Obligation Interview
As you might have guessed, this is the only way Distinctive Home Renovations, Inc. works.
Initially, I determine your concerns, and see if I may be of service to you and your family.
Hopefully, I can show you, as I have many others, how to make your home absolutely gorgeous, something of which you will be truly proud!
Sounds good, doesn't it?
You have to understand, I truly love helping my clients remodel their homes. I am hired by several people each month as their contractor.
But because I have a steady volume of business, I never accept clients who aren't really excited and interested in undertaking their project. I have so much fun seeing people's homes (and their lives) change for the better, that I would never work with anyone who wasn't excited and really looking forward to seeing their "dream house" become a reality.
If all this makes sense, and you like my approach to remodeling, please give me a call at 847.352.1800.
And remember, absolutely NO PRESSURE!
No one is going to try to sell you anything. This is simply a chance for you to meet me, and see if my services can benefit you. If after our meeting, you believe there is no benefit to be derived from working with me, I simply leave and that is that. If, however, you would like my help, we will discuss how we proceed.
I can't think of a better way to work.
In any case, I wish you luck with your remodeling plans, and take care.
Distinctive Home Renovations, Inc.
P.S. Don’t be another "nightmare remodeling" story. Plan your remodel with a professional, so that your home will be something of which you will be very proud.
Posted on Mon, December 13, 2010
by Randy Ruzanski