There are many many stories of couples and individuals searching for a builder or remodeler and the focus get away from the important information that needs to be asked of your contractor and the next thing you know… trouble in paradise. Finding someone to turn your vision into a dream should be handled more like dating to find your significant other and less like grabbing a snack at checkout because the wrapper looked professionally prepared or it was on sale.
First, here are signs that you could be hiring a “Fly-by-Night” contractor:
- You’re told that on this job, a contract “won’t be necessary.”
- You’re asked to pay for the entire job “up front” – or pay cash to a salesperson instead of a check or money order to a company.
- You are confronted with scare tactics, intimidation or threats.
- You’re told you’ve been “chosen” as a demonstration project at a special, low price.
- You’re told a “special” low price is good only if you sign a contract today.
- The contractor won’t give you references – or the references can’t be located.
- You can’t verify the contractor’s business address.
On the flip-side, here is a checklist to help in selecting a home builder or home remodeler to enhance or build your home:
Make sure the builder or home remodeler has a permanent business location.
Find out how long they have been in the building business. It usually takes three to five years to establish a financially sound business. You want to make sure they will be around after the construction is complete to service any warranties.
Check out the company’s rating and if there have been any complaints filed with your local Better Business Bureau: www.bbb.org.
Make sure the builder/remodeler has sufficient workers compensation and general liability insurance (required for HBA of Greater Springfield membership). If not, you may be liable for any construction-related accidents on your premises.
Ask the builder/remodeler to provide you with names of previous customers. If they won’t, beware. If they do, ask the customers if they would hire the builder/remodeler again.
Ask if you can see the builder/remodelers work, both completed and in progress. Check for quality of workmanship and materials.
Do you feel you can easily communicate with the builder/remodeler? Remember you will be in close contact with them throughout the construction process and afterward as you live in your new home.
Make sure the builder/remodeler provides you with a complete and clearly written contract. The contract will benefit both of you. If you are having a new home built, get and review a copy of the home warranty and homeowner manual as well.
Be cautious of unusually low-priced bids. If the builder/remodeler is unable to pay for the materials and labor as the project proceeds, this may indicate a potential problem. Keep in mind that less expensive does not necessarily mean better!
Ask family, friends or coworkers for recommendations and visit the HBA Home Show and HBA Home Remodeling Show to personally meet with builders and remodelers.