How to Choose the Right Contractor
You should always do your homework before having work done on your home. For instance, does the contractor work out of his home or does he have an established office? How long have they been in business? It usually takes three to five years to establish a financially sound business. Can they provide references from customers?
Here are some facts about the home improvement industry you should know:
- According to the National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators, complaints against home improvement contractors are second highest in the nation.
- High business failure rates; 40% of contractors will fail the first year; 70% by the fifth year, and only 6% survive to reach their 10th anniversary. This leaves their customers with worthless warranties.
- In a July 2005 Qualified Remodeler survey, 48% of consumers who hired a contractor would not hire the same one again.
Here are some facts about us you should know:
- We have been in business since 1987 and are well-established with our suppliers, subcontractors, and banking institution. References available upon request.
- Over 80% of our business is from referrals and repeat customers.
- We are members of many professional organizations including our local BBB, the Tidewater Builders Association (TBA) and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NAHB).
- Find out more about us here.
In Virginia a contractor doesn’t have to provide worker’s compensation insurance. What that means is if anyone is injured on your property, you will be liable for the cost. In other words, make sure your contractor has current worker's compensation and general liability insurance or you will be responsible for any accident that may occur during your project.
You should make sure their contractor’s license and business license are up to date. (There is a government website where you can easily do this.) Keep in mind that if you do hire an unlicensed contractor (knowingly or unknowingly) you will have no recourse should you be unhappy with the job or should you have code or permit violations cited by your county.
General suggestions for choosing a remodeler
When choosing a remodeler you should be wary of unusually low-priced bids especially if their contract is confusing. That low price may turn into an over-budget nightmare. Follow these suggestions:
- Get three "apples to apples" estimates to ensure that you get a well rounded view of project issues and costs.
- Make your selection based on overall value not just cost. Spending a little less to get an end product that you are not pleased with is no bargain.
- Select the remodeler with a track record of a variety of excellent projects and experience with your type of project. Remember, low price alone does not ensure a successful remodeling experience.
- Unless you're highly skilled and licensed in all the trades, you could be getting in over your head by acting as your own remodeling contractor.
Making your decision
When you hire a remodeler, you are buying a service rather than a product. The quality of the remodeler's service will show the quality of the finished product and your satisfaction with it. A professional remodeler will:
- Save you money by doing your job right the first time.
- Ensure that your dreams are accurately translated into reality by offering design services in-house or through an arrangement with a professional architect or designer.
- Understand that your comfort during the project and its successful completion depend on effective communication with your remodeler.
- Maintain a safe and reasonably neat jobsite to prevent damage to your home or injury to household members and pets.
- Provide the best possible materials within your budget.
- Ensure the job meets or exceeds applicable building codes and regulations.
- Guarantee the quality of the work with a warranty.
- Respond promptly to service calls and inquiries.