Angie's List: How to Avoid Hiring a Crummy Home Remodeling Contractor

Indianapolis, IN (PRWEB) August 8, 2007


The $214 billion U.S. home remodeling market is booming, but only about half of the homeowners involved are joining the do-it-yourself movement, opting instead for the assurance a professional contractor seems to offer.

Too many of these consumers are disappointed in the services their remodeling contractor offers, or worse, are ripped off by the person they trusted to help improve their home. Some states have no licensing requirements for contractors, which can make it difficult for homeowners to check up on contractors before they hire.

But separating a good remodeling contractor from a bad one isn't as difficult as it might seem. With just a bit of effort, you can save, time, money and a lot of stress while turning your home into a haven.

“Most homeowners underestimate the complexity of remodeling projects,” says Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List. “Large home remodeling projects include lots of code requirements, as well as structural and mechanical issues. Most of us are just not equipped to handle these jobs ourselves.”

Angie's List Hiring a Contractor 101:

  • Clearly define your project. Before you begin talking with home remodeling contractors, pick up remodeling magazines, search the Internet for information on designs and materials, and then put your ideas on paper. Even rough ideas on paper are better than nothing at all. It will give a potential contractor a better sense of what your expectations are and what you are hoping to accomplish.
  • Do you need a general contractor? Once you know what you want done, consider what you realistically can accomplish on your own. For larger projects, especially those that may involve more than three different service providers, a general contractor to oversee your project may be required.
  • Consider an architect. If you are eliminating walls, adding rooms or doing anything that impacts the structure of your home, an architect or structural engineer may be a good idea. Some larger remodeling firms have these professionals on staff to review possible options, finalize plans and ensure the structural integrity of your home.
  • Ask around. Ask neighbors and friends who've had work done for references. If you're new in town, or don't know anyone who has had similar projects done, check Angie's List for references.
  • Do your research. Don't just hire based on a conversation. Check the performance record of the contractor you plan to hire through Angie's List, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), and the Better Business Bureau. If your contractor balks at providing references, move to the next one on your list. Get names of previous customers and find out if they were pleased with the work and the timeline of the project, as well as if they'd hire the contractor again. Get the names of subcontractors and ask if they work with the remodeling contractor often and does he pay on time.
  • License for hire: In states or cities where licenses are required, don't rely on the contractor's word to know whether his or her license is valid: check it out through the appropriate agency. Check the status of the contractor's bonding and liability insurance coverage too.
  • Know your budget. Remember that even the most careful budget will change. Experts warn to expect an increase of 10 or 15 percent on top of the proposal – more if your project includes hidden problems.
  • Review all aspects of the contract before you sign. Often, homeowners assume certain specifics are included, such as appliance installation. Be sure you know the details of the contract, as well as how any change orders will be handled. As well, make sure your contract includes a lien waiver, covering payments to all subcontractors who worked on the project.
  • Confirm the “punch list” procedure. Basically, this is how the remodeling contractor will deal with the list of small items remaining to be completed at the end of the job. A good rule of thumb is to determine the cost of those items, double it, then withhold that amount from the final payment, until the list is complete.
  • Prepare your family for the stress associated with home remodeling. This is one of the most overlooked, but critical considerations. How will the project change your routine, especially if it's a kitchen or bath? Where will materials be stored? What are the working hours for the crew?

Angie's List is where consumers turn to get the real scoop on local contractors and companies in more than 280 different categories. Currently, more than 500,000 consumers across the U.S. rely on Angie's List to help them find the right contractor or company for the job they need done. Members have unlimited access to the list via Internet or phone; receive the Angie's List magazine, which includes articles on home improvement and maintenance, consumer trends and scam alerts; a monthly newsletter with even more information and coupons; and they can utilize the Angie's List complaint resolution service. Get more information and tips on home remodeling and contractors at http://www.angieslist.com.

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