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10 Simple Tips To Help You Select The Right & Reputable Contractor

According to the NARI/Home Improvement Council the $291.5 billion U.S. remodeling market is projected to continue to grow, despite a slowing of the housing sale market as many people are choosing to stay and remodel instead of selling and trading up.
This trend is certainly evidenced by the popularity of home improvement television shows but too often these programs leave many home owners with the impression that major projects can be done quickly. And many well intentioned do-it-yourself homeowners tackle remodeling projects that are better left to the professionals. So how do you begin to find the right and reputable contract to help you with your remodeling project? If you get bids from several contractors you want to make sure you're comparing apples to apples as there are many variables that will go into the estimate price. The following ten tips will help you select the right contractor for your project:

Get Organized - Start a file or notebook and fill it with sample images of your project: Clip pictures from magazines, snap digital pics of friend's houses or search online for photos that you can print out. Make notes about what specifically you like about each image. This will help to supplement your verbal discussion with your prospective contractor.

Personal Referral - A personal reference from someone who has used a contractor is your best lead to finding someone to remodel your house. You can also check with the local chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry at www.nari.org, or ask professionals in related industries who may know of a contractor's work first hand. Those professionals may include realtors, interior decorators, mortgage brokers, architects or a landscaper.

Licensing & Insurance - In order to operate a contracting business in New York State a contractor must apply for a license. You should ask for that number and then contact your local County Office or Consumer Affairs to confirm the number is valid. In addition to being licensed, you want to make sure a contractor has ample insurance coverage in case of unforeseen events. Although, they are not the norm, it is critical the one time something does like if an item or window pane breaks when bringing materials in or out of a house or in an extreme case if a plumbing pipe should break causing water damage.. Most contractors will have one million dollars or more in coverage.

Portfolio - A picture is worth a thousand words so ask to see the contractor's portfolio which may be in the form of a binder book with pictures or photos on their website.

Client Referrals - If a contractor did not come to you from a personal referral, be sure to ask for a list of client referances, preferably those who had similar work done your remodeling project.

The Estimate: Details, Timing & Budget - A detailed estimate is crucial in order to compare bids. The estimate should include the dimensions of the project/materials being use, the exact materials and where pertinent the brands being used. For example "paint" vs. Benjamin Moore Latex Paint or "double hung windows" vs. Anderson Double Hung Windows Model #x . Also look for estimated duration of the project and the cost. Will there be hidden costs? If your contractor underestimates the cost of project will they pick up the difference or ask you to foot the bill?

When you call to schedule an estimate appointment be up front with the contractor with regard to when you plan to have the work done. If you're in the very early information gathering stages, be sure to convey that. A good contractor won't take you less seriously, in fact their livelihood depends on having at least 6 months of upcoming work on their calendars so your future project is important to them.

Tell the contractor right up front if you have a budget you are working with. This will help he or she to provide you with options that are within your reach.

Subcontractors and Staff - It all comes down to details. You may see a disparity in estimate bids because a contractor will do all the work himself, even in cases where a specialized subcontractor should be hired. These subcontractors must also be licensed and insured.

Payment Schedule & Payment Options - Common practice will require that you pay your contractor 1/3 of the total the first day on the job, another 1/3 half-way through the project and then 1/3 on the day of completion. If you are requesting special materials it would be likely be required that you'd have to pay for that up front. In addition, many contractors today take credit cards to make payment easier for you. If a contractor insists on having you pay in cash that may be a red flag about their business practices.

Adding or changing job specs once work is underway - If there are changes to the scope of your project then the work and agreed upon price should be provided in written form and approved by you with a by signature .

Value Added - As with any business relationship there are tangible and intangible attributes that may help you select one contractor over another. Are you comfortable speaking with them? Are they easy to reach by email if you prefer email or phone calls if that's your preferred method of communication? Is the owner on the job often or is the person selling you the services never to be heard from? Does the contractor offer suggestions and not rush you or brush off your questions?

These ten tips will help you select the best contractor to work on your home remodeling project. The next step will be to ask for a written contract.


JBL Home Improvements, Inc.
P.O. Box 584
St. James, NY 11780

Office Phone: 631-584-0136
Office Fax: 631-382-8226

Call us: 631-584-0136

Nassau license : H0444310000 | Suffolk license: 39366-H | Fully Insured