Remodeling your home is not easy. There are many things to consider in the planning process before remodeling can be done. Knowing those things can help you avoid getting into costly mistakes later on.
Check local building codes
You may have been planning to add another room to your house or you just want to build a new porch. Before starting, you will have to check the local building codes.
In the U.S., states and municipalities have adopted codes to ensure the health, safety, and general well-being of the occupants within homes and buildings.
These codes include building, dwelling, structural, plumbing, mechanical, electrical fire/life safety, accessibility, energy, and elevator codes for each state. Each city has its own building codes so it is important to check with your cities municipal office to ensure your building plans are up-to-date.
Find good contractors
For some remodeling projects, you might want to hire the services of a contractor who can provide professional assistance during the planning as well as the working stages of the project.
It would be a good idea to hire a local contractor, someone who you know, or someone that is recommended by a friend, neighbor, or co-worker who’ve had improvement work done. Also, check out the contractor’s reputation on online rating sites you trust.
A great way to find information about a contractor is to join Angie’s list. Angie’s List members submit more than 15,000 reports each month about the companies they’ve hired.
Crimcheck provides many contractors through the United States with their background checks and pre-employment services.
Search for a contractor’s Business Profile at BBB.org for free information on their history of complaints, read verified Customer Reviews, and see if they are an Accredited Business.
Call the list of prospects
Once you created a list of prospects and researched each contractor, make a quick call to go through these questions:
- Did they do projects like yours before?
- How long have they been in business?
- Do they have insurance? The certificate of insurance (COI), should provide the name of the insurance company, policy number, and policy limits the contractor carries.
- Are they licensed according to the laws of your state? You can get to your state’s licensing agency to learn more here.
- Can they provide financial references, from suppliers or banks?
- Can they give you a list of previous clients?
- When could they start?
- How many other projects would they have going at the same time?
Meet the contractors
After your phone interviews, select at least three contractors to meet for an estimate and further discussion. Meeting in-person is a better way to establish a positive working relationship.
During the meeting, ask those questions:
- Can you visit a current job site to see how they work?
- How much of the work will be done by subcontractors?
- Do they have a good relationship with their subcontractors?
- Can they give you a written bid? It is recommended that you aim for a bid that is at least 10% below your budget.
- Is their bid an estimate or a fixed price? (You’ll want a fixed price before the job starts.)
- What will the payment schedule be? Request that all final inspections be completed by the local building official prior to the final payment.
- What is your warranty coverage after work is completed?
Get a detailed bid, contract, and payment plan
It’s important to make sure you’re comparing for the same product when you get multiple bid. Look at building materials, timelines, and other factors that may vary by contractor.
Get multiple bids before making a decision. Make sure to read the fine print on all estimates and contracts. Get everything in writing, and make sure the contract is clear and well written. Consider having a lawyer review the proposed contract for your protection before you sign it if the project involves substantial costs. Never let any work begin without a written and signed contract.
Never pay cash. Make sure your check is written to a company, not an individual, or use a credit card. Request a receipt marked “Paid in Full” when the job is completed and your final payment made.