How to Hire a Remodeling Builder

Hiring a builder to remodel your home sounds like such a simple task.  Your home is dated or too small.  You have some ideas.  You want to see them in real life.  You hire someone to go to work.  You pay him money.  What happens?  

Unfortunately, the home improvement industry ranks among the top five sources of complaints year in and year out for the Better Business Bureaus.  Scams that involve construction and home improvement are persistently top among issue the BBB has to deal with.  In fact, they recommend avoiding any contractor who advertises in a local newspaper or sticks a flyer in your mailbox.  Simply put, you are putting yourself at risk to getting ripped off.

Their advice is to hire a local builder with a good track record and the references to prove it.  They should be licensed, bonded and insured and willing to sign a contract with you.

Beyond those suggestions, you should also never hire the first contractor you meet.  It is important to get at least three bids to compare pricing and timeframes for completion.  When it comes to contracts, you want to make sure never to allow anyone to begin work on your home until there is a signed and written contract in hand.  This contract should have a start date and an expected completion date as well as exact costs being detailed and the disbursement of payments during the remodel.  It is a cliche, but you need to read any and all fine print.

If a remodeling builder asks you for an initial deposit more than 25% to 30% of the total costs, be wary you’ve hired a lemon.  The industry standard is a quarter to a third up front, a few installment payments throughout depending on the length of the job and final payment upon completion.  Never pay in cash.  Use a check or a credit card and get a receipt each time.

Besides a contract, the other written document you want is a warranty.  The contractor must be able to warranty his work and the materials for at least one full year.

Another often overlooked tip is to check a potential contractor to see if there is any criminal history.  You never, ever want to hire anyone with a criminal past.  They may have made some mistakes and perhaps they have turned things around, but let them work on someone else’s house, not yours.

Finally, ask the builder for referrals from past clients and actually call them.  Ask the contractor if you can see his portfolio of past work.  You want to make sure the builder has the ability and skills to translate…

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