What You Should Know Before Hiring a Remodeler

By Karen Nakamura Posted in: BIARemodel

With the ongoing challenges of our economy, many families are choosing to remodel their home to fit their changing needs, rather than selling their home and buying another one. 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 at www.nahb.org/remodelerdirectory, or visit www.biahawaii.org. A professional remodeler will uphold the highest professional and ethical standards in the industry. These sources can also 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.

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

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

Do research to verify that potential remodelers are appropriately licensed and have a good business track record. Look them up with 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. If so, were those complaints resolved satisfactorily?

When meeting with remodelers, be sure to ask:

• 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? Ask for a copy of the insurance certificates.

• What is their working knowledge of the many types and ages of homes in the area, and what sort of issues could arise?

• Do they arrange for the building permit? The person who obtains the permit is the contractor on record and therefore liable for the work.

• Do they provide a written estimate before the work begins, and a detailed contract that spells out the work that will and will not be performed, protects both of you, provides a fair payment schedule contract and complies with local, state and federal laws?

• Do they offer a warranty? What is covered and for how long?

For more information, visit www.nahb.org/remodeling or www.biahawaii.org.

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