February 9, 2017

10 Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a Home Remodeler – First in a two-part series

So often, homeowners approach Dover after an unpleasant renovation experience with another contractor, asking for our help to complete or redo work in their homes. Unfortunately, there are contractors out there that make promises, yet don’t follow through.

While none of us has a crystal ball that shows the guaranteed outcome of our remodeling project, there are things that we can do to increase the likelihood of getting what we want, on time and on budget.  Here is part one of my list of pitfalls to avoid:

1.    NOT CHECKING WITH RESOURCES
It’s easy and FREE to check a contractor’s status with consumer advocacy and reporting organizations, including NARI and the BBB. You can also call your local building department—they’re not very likely to recommend a contractor who has a long list of violations.

Go on Angie’s List and Houzz  – but use common sense. While contractors do have to pay to advertise on these sites, they do not pay for their grade. Pay attention to grades and customer reviews.

2.    NOT ASKING FOR REFERENCES FROM OTHER CLIENTS
Even if you’ve seen their work, you should find out how the contractor operates from a customer service standpoint. How do they handle pets?  Are they sensitive to having kids in the house? Is the house left in good order at the end of each day? Is the contractor punctual? These are the details that other customers can share with you to paint a complete picture.

3.    NOT LOOKING AT BEFORE AND AFTER PHOTOS OF SIMILAR PROJECTS
Maybe this contractor did a beautiful job in your neighbor’s bathroom, but how will they handle your kitchen remodel? Ask to see project photos before and after the remodel. Do you see variety in both project scope and style? Photos of finished projects (those similar to yours and otherwise) will help you feel more confident in their capabilities.

4.    NOT ASKING IF THE CONTRACTOR IS REGISTERED WITH YOUR CITY
Professional contractors are registered with the city building department. No exceptions.

5.    NOT ASKING ABOUT PERMITS
Most home remodeling jobs require a building permit from the city. Permits are secured before work begins based on submitted plans and then the work is reviewed upon project completion for final inspection and signoff. If no permit is secured, the contractor and homeowner could be fined by the city—and the inspector can require that the homeowner un-do the work – at the homeowner’s expense.

If the contractor asks you to pull the permit, that should raise a red flag. The contractor must be registered with the city to apply for a permit.

Check back next week for the remaining list of mistakes to avoid when hiring a home remodeling contractor!

The Best Is Yet To Come,
Beth Orr Schroeder

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