Should I Hire A Professional Remodeler?
Do-it-yourself (DIY) projects have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years on the heels of popular home improvement shows and publications. And, for certain small projects, a DIY project can be rewarding and fun - if you are prepared and have the proper skills. But before you start knocking down walls and taking out wiring, ask yourself the following questions:
- Have you ever undertaken a project like this before?
- Do you know everything you will need (materials, tools, etc.) to complete the project?
- Are you familiar with the applicable building codes and permits?
- Do you have the necessary skills for this project? Do you have the time to learn these skills?
- If you cannot complete the project according to your original schedule, are you (and your family) prepared to handle the resulting inconvenience?
- Do you understand all the safety issues associated with this project?
- Are you familiar with the architecture and structural makeup of your home?
- Have you considered the hidden costs associated with doing it yourself - time, tools, and the possibility that you may actually decrease the value of your house if the result isn't up to professional standards?
It is easy to look at the cost of hiring a professional remodeler and think only of labor and materials. But remember that a professional remodeler offers you an important service - years of experience, the right tools, a network of suppliers and subcontractors, and an in-depth understanding of legal regulations, cost estimating, scheduling, and the latest construction techniques and materials.
Finding the Right Professional Remodeler
You want to hire a professional home remodeler, but where do you begin?
- Local trade associations, such as your area's local home builders and remodelers association and the Better Business Bureau.
- Also, friends, family, neighbors and coworkers who have had remodeling work done.
- Independent trade contractors, building materials suppliers, architects, engineers, home inspectors, local lenders, and insurance professionals.
Once you have developed a list of potential home remodelers for your project:
- Check with your local or state office of consumer protection and the local Better Business Bureau. Ask if they have received any complaints about the home remodeler. If so, were those complaints resolved satisfactorily?
- Check with your state's licensing agency and the state and local building inspectors to see if they have received any complaints about the remodeler and to verify that the remodeler has the appropriate licenses and registrations.
The hardest part in evaluating a remodeler is knowing exactly what to look for and ask. This detailed list will help you decide with confidence who is the best choice for you.
Business Experience and Management
Does the home remodeler:
- Maintain a permanent mailing address, email address, published personal phone number, fax number, and a cell phone, pager, or voice-messaging system?
- Carry insurance that protects you from claims arising from property damage or job site injuries?
- Ask for a copy of the home remodeler's insurance certificates to be sure you will not be liable in these situations for property damage or job site related injuries
- Ask the home remodeler how much the project will add to your home's value and obtain the necessary additional insurance.
- Have an established presence in the community?
- How long has the company been in business under this name?
- Does the home remodeler maintain solid relationships with experienced independent trade contractors such as plumbers and electricians?
- Possess a trustworthy reputation among customers, peers, local officials, and people involved in all aspects of the industry?
- Does the home remodeler have a track record of successful projects similar to one you are planning?
- Ask for a list of building materials suppliers and call them to see if the home remodeler has an account or pays for materials on delivery.
- Has the home remodeler earned any professional designations?
Construction and Technical Expertise
Does the home remodeler:
- Have a working knowledge of the many types and ages of homes in the area. Knowing what is likely to be behind a wall or under a floor helps the remodeler to provide reliable estimates. An extremely low bid may indicate lack of experience and an inability to later cover the actual costs involved in the job and create unnecessary change orders.
- Specialize in particular types of projects?
- Arrange for the building permit?
- Offer a warranty? If so, what kind and for how long? What is covered? What is not?
- Agree to begin and complete your job within a reasonable timetable?
Customer Service and Communication
Does the home remodeler:
- Respond promptly to your inquiries? Schedule meetings and attend them on time?
- Emphasize service and developing a trusting relationship with you?
- Listen to and understand your needs and wants and work with you to ensure that the plans for your job accurately reflect your expectations?
- Facilitate communication among all parties involved in the project?
- You'll also need to get references from your candidates. Be sure to follow-up with the references provided. Prioir clients can give you good insight on what the working relationaship was like with that remodeler.