What You Should Know Before Hiring a Remodeler

By Karen Nakamura Posted in: BIARemodel

With the ongoing challenges in our economy, many families are choosing to remodel their homes to fit their changing needs, rather than selling their home and buying another. Your home is likely your largest investment, and even simple remodels can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, so you want to make sure you find a contractor you can trust.

The best place to start is the Directory of Professional Remodelers. (Visit www.nahb.org/remodelerdirectory or contact the www.biahawaii.org.) A professional remodeler will uphold the highest professional and ethical standards in the industry. These sources also can help you find a remodeler who specializes in a specific type of remodeling, such as a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) to help modify your home to better suit you as you age, or a Certified Green Remodeler (CGM) to make your home more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.

You should also ask for referrals from friends, family, neighbors, coworkers and others who have had remodeling work done. Or, ask building materials suppliers, architects, engineers, home inspectors, lenders and insurance professionals for recommendations.

There also are websites where consumers leave comments about their experience with local businesses, such as www.yelp.com, www.angieslist.com and www.kudzu.com. But be careful about these sources of information as you have no way of knowing who left the comment or if they were honest.

Once you have a list of potential home remodelers for your project, do research to verify that they are appropriately licensed and have a good business track record. Look them up with the state office of consumer protection, the Better Business Bureau as well as with DCCA vocational licensing agency. Verify that the remodeler has the appropriate contractor licenses for the work and see if they have received any complaints and if so, were those complaints resolved satisfactorily?

When you begin meeting with remodelers, you want to find out information such as:

• How long have they been in business in your community? Can they provide references from customers and suppliers they work with?

• Do they carry insurance that protects you from claims arising from property damage or job site injuries?

• Do they offer a warranty? What is covered under the warranty?

For more detailed checklists for finding, evaluating and working with a remodeler, as well as other information about remodeling your home, go to www.nahb.org/remodeling.

Karen Nakamura is executive vice president/CEO of the Building Industry Association of Hawaii.