Consumer Awareness

Like anything else, you can’t get something for nothing. Be careful of choosing your contractor based upon the lowest price. Before you accept a low price, you should consider the level of service involved. the type of company you’re choosing, the project’s design, and the project’s specifications. Though price is always a consideration, you should be more concerned with value. Try to get the best contractor you can find and the highest quality work for your money.

In most states, contractors are required to be licensed. Licensing usually involves lengthy training for testing.
Make sure your contractor carries general liability insurance. This type of insurance protects your property in case of damage caused by the contractor and/or their employees. The insurance company will pay for the cost of replacing and/or repairing of damage that occurs.
Make sure your contractor has workman’s compensation insurance. It protects you from liability if a worker is injured while on your property. Be aware that if your contractor doesn’t carry workman’s compensation coverage, you may be liable for any injuries suffered by any of the contractor’s employees on your property. Some contractors will tell you that your homeowners insurance will cover them against injury. Do not believe this lie. Most policies specifically exclude coverage for injuries to hired contractors. If the contractor does carry workman’s compensation insurance, ask them to show you a copy of their policy.
It’s always a good idea to consider hiring a contractor that belongs to at least one if not all of them. Here’s why: In most cases these associations attract only conscientious contractors interested in improving the industry and weeding out unprofessional builders and remodelers. Secondly, in order to become a member, these associations investigate a contractor’s background and references. Thirdly, all members must sign a written code of ethics and pledge to professionalism. Most members take this pledge very seriously.
This is very important. When a contractor pulls the required permits, you know things will be done “to code”. Also, many homeowners’ insurance policies require pulling a permit on any major remodeling to keep your home properly covered. Many prefer not to pull permits because of the time involved and the “hassle” with the inspectors. Some contractors may ask you to get the permits. This could be a warning sign that they aren’t able to pull the permits because they are unlicensed, or the work is outside of their license. A reputable contractor will pull a permit on every job where a permit is required.
Your contractor should guarantee their work. Many contractors will not guarantee their work. Some may provide you with a one or two year workmanship warranty. Most faulty workmanship will easily be detected within this one or two year period. If a contractor won’t guarantee it, don’t buy it.
Your contractor should gladly provide you with references. You should look for a well-established contractor who can give you several customer references -usually previous customers from the last six months to a year. Make sure the company has a physical presence this gives you a place where you know you can find them and indicates they are financially sound and won’t be declaring bankruptcy in the middle of your project.
Make sure the contractor or his job supervisor is on the job whenever work is being performed. The former party must be intimately familiar with every aspect of your project. If you won’t be home during the construction and must leave the house unlocked or leave a key with the contractor, you must feel comfortable. You can’t be worried about what is going on when you are not there.
When a significant source of a contractor’s business is derived from repeat and referral business, it usually indicates that their clients are pleased with the work they’ve received.
Your contractor should be experienced in the type of remodeling project you want done not just “contracting experience.”
A clean work site is fundamental to a smooth remodeling project. Your contractor should clean up any debris at the end of each day and dispose of any rubbish at the conclusion of the work. Your home should be left “broom swept”.