Choosing a Contractor
Choosing a contractor is only the first step. If you want your remodeling experience to be a good one, both you and the remodeling contractor have work to do. Here are some tips.
Tip 1. Don’t sign a contract until all the details are clear and complete. If it isn’t in the contract, then legally it doesn’t exist. Assuming you can figure it out later is usually a bad idea.
Tip 2. Sit down with your remodeler before the project begins to lay out the ground rules. If you don’t want loud music played or smoking on your property, speak up before the first hammer is raised. It will save you headaches later on.
Tip 3. Do some research on your own. There are so many products available in the market today, that you’ll be better off if you do some research to find out exactly what you want. Otherwise, your remodeler will choose for you. It pays to check out all the options before you make your choice. Your remodeler should be able to guide you to the local supply houses or manufacturer reps in your area.
Tip 4. Never get your own permit for the work. Most local jurisdictions consider the person who obtained the permit to be liable. Let your contractor take that risk. That’s part of what you’re paying for.
Tip 5. Never sign for deliveries. You will be held responsible if the shipment is damaged, incomplete, or incorrect. Again, allow your contractor to take that risk.
Tip 6. Get the financing right. Remember that interest on most home equity loans is tax deductible, which makes financing a better choice than cash in many cases. Check with your financial advisor and research the options before you make your financing choice.
Tip 7. Save your receipts. Investments you make to improve your home can be deducted against your capital gains taxes when you sell your home. So set up a file (that will be easy to find years down the road!) so you can realize that financial benefit when the time comes.
Tip 8. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Talk to your contractor. This is the only way to ensure a successful project. You are a team. Be sure the lines of communication are open at all times. If you have a problem, let the contractor know immediately. The longer you wait, the bigger the problems will become.
Tip 9. Be Ready for Change Orders. In the middle of the project, when you start to see things coming together, you’ll realize that you want something just a little different than what you had imagined. This is normal. So remodelers will write up a change order, because the change brings additional costs. This is also normal, so build it into your budget.
Tip 10. Have a process if things go bad. Even with the best of intentions, sometimes projects go down the wrong path, and conflicts can’t be resolved through regular communication. Know what your options are. Some contracts will include a provision for mediation or arbitration in those cases, and a third party can sometimes help before you have to resort to legal action. NARI Metro DC does have a consumer grievance procedure you can use if your contractor is a NARI member.
Want more? Check out the extensive list of remodeling tips for homeowners on the NARI National website.