May 16, 2013

Before hiring a remodeling contractor to renovate your bathroom, industry experts suggest going a checklist of 10 things you should do prior to signing a contract. Doing a little homework and research concerning home remodeling contractors before allowing them to rip apart your bathroom can prevent you from being scammed or from experiencing a disaster caused by unprofessional, amateurish workmanship.

1) Was the contractor in which you are interested referred to you by a family member or friend? When you receive a referral from someone who actually had work done by the contractor and was satisfied with the contractor, you can almost be sure you aren’t going to deal with a company that isn’t dependable and competent.

2) Check the credentials of the contractor online or by contacting state offices that deal with contractor licenses. Go online and access the contractor’s website to see if information about credentials and licensing are viewable on the site. While investigating the contractor’s website, look for designations from reputable associations like the NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association) or the NAHB (National Association of Homebuilders). Do research into what kind of educational background is necessary to be awarded with certifications relevant to the remodeling industry.

3) Don’t just pick one candidate—interview at least three or four different contractors, take note of any “gut instincts” you experience while interviewing contractors and never hesitate to ask questions regarding the viability of the remodeling company. Moreover, you want builders and designers who actually listen to you rather than do a lot of fast-talking about getting “cheaper” materials or performing the job in just “a few” days.

4) Keep track of the quotes you receive from your prospective contractors. Consider any significant discrepancies among the quotes. While it is not uncommon for quotes to vary several hundred dollars, one quote that is substantially higher or lower than the other quotes should be viewed with some skepticism.

5) Ask for references from contractors and make calls to these former customers to find out more about the contractor’s actual work ethics and habits.

6) Once you have decided on the contractor you want to renovate your bathroom, don’t rush to sign the documents offered to you. Read through them carefully, rate the professionalism of the contracts and make sure the contract contains a site plan, payment schedule, change order clauses, warranties and a dispute resolution clause.

7) Listen to suggestions provided by your contractor’s designers, architects and other specialists even if you already had your heart set on a certain type of bathroom. Remember they have years of experience in the renovating industry and could be preventing you from making a costly mistake.

8) Most professional contractors request approximately 1/3 of the cost of the project to be paid upfront prior to starting the job. Be wary of contractors who ask for more.

9) Avoid contractors who insist that you “stay out of the work area” prior to hiring them. Professional contractors will not mind you inquiring about the progress of the job, how everything is going, etc. It won’t seem like you are interfering and it will give you peace of mind as well.

10) Even though it has already been mentioned, never, ever let an unlicensed and unestablished remodeling contractor do any work on your bathroom or any other room in your home. Be aware that the adage “you get what you pay for” probably applies more to the home renovating industry than any other, service-related industry.

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