TOP 10 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR REMODELER BEFORE THE JOB BEGINS July 19, 2011
MILWAUKEE, WIS. – Remodeling season is in full swing. Once you’ve made the commitment to engage in a project, its important to do your homework in selecting a contractor to do the job for you. Knowing what to ask before signing the contract and being comfortable with the answers is key to ensuring a successful remodeling experience.
Members of Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council, Inc., the area's leading home improvement and remodeling industry resource for more than 50 years, provide assistance on a variety of home improvement topics to homeowners every day. From providing directories of NARI member contractors to consumers, to producing home and remodeling shows, to guiding homeowners in knowing how to proceed with selecting a contractor, NARI is an important resource.
When a homeowner is ready to proceed with a project, NARI members advise using these questions as a guideline to help in the selection process. Be sure to ask these questions, as well as questions about the contract, BEFORE you sign on the dotted line.
1. Are you licensed and insured? Remodeling contractors and subcontractors should have a state-issued homebuilder's license. Both should also carry a general liability and workers’ compensation liability insurance. Ask to have a copy of the license and the certificates of insurance on your jobsite. These certifications serve as a protection for you and your property.
2. How much do you charge and what is your payment schedule? Get a firm quote on your project as well as estimated costs for changes that might be required. Most contractors work on as pay-as-you-go basis, receiving partial payments throughout the process. This should be clearly defined in your contract. Avoid any contractor who wants full payment before starting the job. When your job is complete, be sure to obtain lien releases from the contractor.
3. Who are your suppliers? You can also ask for a list of the contractor’s suppliers to double-check on how the contractor works with them: does he have an account or pays on delivery? Most suppliers are willing to extend credit to financially sound contractors. Simple checks like these help you in the long run and ensure you’re working with a reputable firm.
4. Can I see some of your projects and talk to your former clients? A good contractor is proud of their work and can’t wait to show it off. Ask to see photos of homes similar to the project you are considering. Also ask for names of customers from the past six months to a year for reference checks and call them to discuss their experience with the company you are considering hiring.
5. With whom will I be working on the jobsite? While some builders supervise in person, others use superintendents or foremen to manage daily operations on a job site. That in-charge person should be onsite whenever work is being performed, especially if sub-contractors will be used. That responsible person should also be familiar with every aspect of your project. Then you don’t have to worry about what is going on when you are not at home.
6. Is your work guaranteed and how do you handle callbacks? Hiring a remodeler who will to return to the site and fix any construction-related problems that may develop even after the job is finished is essential. It’s also important to hire one that guarantees the work for at least one year from date of completion. Be sure to obtain information on any applicable warranties from the materials used.
7. Will you pull all the required building permits? A reputable contractor will permit every job where a permit is required and it is the contractor who should pull the permits themselves to ensure that the project is done to code. If the contractor asks you to get the permits, this is a red flag. Perhaps they are not able to pull the permit because they are either unlicensed or the work is outside of their license. It’s in your best interested to find out.
8. Who is responsible for clean up? Dust and dirt from a remodeling project is inevitable and everywhere! Contractors should make a good effort to contain dust and to notify you of heavy dust generating operations so you can make an effort to cover up your furniture and sensitive items. The contractor should also agree to sweep and place construction debris in a predetermined place or trash container at the end of every day.
9. How long have you been in the business? While not a guarantee of good customer service, quality, or reliability, how long a business has been in operation does offer some indication that the owner can successfully run a job and treat its clients well.
10. Do you belong to any type of professional associations? When you hire a contractor who is a member of a professional association such as NARI, you are assured that firm has met certain standards for business practices, quality, and reputability. To be a member of such an organization, a company must be licensed and insured and the contractor’s background and references are thoroughly investigated. The association also offers continuing education and certification programs for its members to provide opportunities for them to better their services.
Milwaukee/NARI and its more than 800 members are ready to provide assistance and information on home repair, improvement, and remodeling. NARI members are considered among the best trained and most experienced in their fields, largely because of the organizations stringent ethical standards and certification requirements for its top members.
The Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council was chartered in July 1961, as a Chapter of the National Home Improvement Council. In May of 1982, the National Home Improvement Council merged with the National Remodelers Association to form NARI - the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.
The Council's goals of encouraging ethical conduct, professionalism, and sound business practices in the remodeling industry have led to the remodeling industry's growth and made NARI a recognized authority in that industry. With over 800 members, the Milwaukee Chapter is the nation's largest.
For more information or to receive a free copy of an annual membership roster listing all members alphabetically and by category, and the booklet, “Milwaukee/NARI's Remodeling Guide,” call (414) 771-4071 or visit the Council’s Web site at www.milwaukeenari.org.