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When you hire a remodeler, you are buying a service rather than a product. The quality of the service the Remodeler provides will determine the quality of the finished project and your satisfaction with it. The information below can help guide you in making the right decision for your home remodeling project.

Business experience and management

DOES THE REMODELER:

  • Maintain a permanent mailing address, a phone number and a pager or answering system? You want to be able to reach the remodeler quickly and easily – especially at critical times.
  • Carry insurance that protects you from claims arising due to property damage or jobsite injuries?
    • Ask for a copy of the remodeler’s insurance certificates so you can be sure that you are not liable for property damage or jobsite-related injuries.
    • You should also ask the remodeler how much the project will add to your home’s value and then obtain the necessary additional insurance.
  • Have an established presence in the community?
    • How long has the company been in business? Longevity usually suggests financial stability.
    • Does the remodeler maintain solid relationships with experienced independent trade contractors (such as plumbers and electricians) and work with them as a team to keep your job running smoothly?
  • Possess a trustworthy reputation among customers, peers and those in the remodeling industry?
    • Ask for a list of building materials suppliers and call them to see if the remodeler has an account or pays for materials on delivery. Most suppliers are willing to extend credit to financially sound companies.
    • Does the remodeler have a track record of successful projects similar to yours?
  • Participate in a trade organization such as the Tidewater Builders Association Remodelers Council? Membership reflects a remodeler’s commitment to professionalism in the remodeling industry.
  • Carry a designation such as Certified Graduate Remodeler (CGR) or Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS), professional designations acquired through the National Association of Home Builders?

Construction and technical expertise

DOES THE REMODELER:

  • Have a working knowledge of the many types and ages of homes in the area? A sound structural and architectural knowledge of what is likely to be behind a wall or under a floor helps the remodeler provide reliable estimates. Extremely low bids may reflect a remodeler’s lack of this knowledge and a poor understanding of the actual costs involved.
  • Know what products and materials would likely be used for your project?
  • Offer an array of options when selecting products, materials and techniques?
  • Specialize in particular types of projects?
  • Arrange for the building permit? Remember that the person who obtains the permit is the contractor of record and therefore liable for the work.
  • Offer a warranty? If so, what kind and for how long? What is covered under the warranty and what is not?
  • Understand the scheduling issues required to begin and complete your job within your timetable?

Customer service and communication

DOES THE REMODELER:

  • Respond promptly to your inquiries?
  • Emphasize customer service?
  • Listen to and understand your needs and wants?
  • When you discuss what you’d like to do, does the remodeler show enthusiasm for your ideas and suggest ways to make them work within your budget?
  • You should ask the remodeler for examples of how the company has solved home improvement challenges for other customers.
  • Facilitate and encourage communication? Ask how the remodeler handles communication during construction (such as a message center in the house for you and the remodeling team).
  • Also ask the remodeler to provide previous customers’ names and contact information, especially those who have had similar types of work done.

A few final steps

If you’re satisfied with the answers to these questions, ask for a written estimate of the work to be done based on a set of plans and specifications. Be prepared to pay for this package.

If the estimated cost of the project is more than you can afford, see if you can trim something from the project or postpone part of it so you can still work with a professional home remodeler.

Ask the home remodeler to explain the plans, specifications and company procedures to you. For instance, once construction begins, how does the company handle changes to the initial design, choice of materials or schedule. If you compare your estimate with another, be sure each one is based upon the same set of plans, specifications and scope of work. If your remodeler suggests any deviations, ask that they be presented as options separate from the main proposal.

Find out whether the remodeler uses a detailed, written contract that protects both of you and that complies with local, state and federal laws. The contract must spell out the work that will and will not be performed, and provide a fair payment schedule.

Select the remodeler with a track record of a variety of excellent projects and plenty of experience with your type of project. Beware of an exceptionally low price and make sure that the remodeler has the appropriate contractor’s license by visiting the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation at www.dpor.virginia.gov



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