Selecting a Builder or Remodeler
There may not be enough experienced builders or remodelers in certain areas to meet demands without having to wait for several months. Therefore homeowners need to be cautious and conduct a thorough search before signing on with just any contractor who offers to start work tomorrow and quotes what seems to be a reasonable price.
Since July 2009 all home improvement contractors must be registered. Be sure to look for that number is all written advertisements, and correspondance. Keep in mind this only assures compliance with PA law and is not a guarantee of workmanship or the quality of the finished product. Although it does make it easier for the Attorney General to track complaints against home improvement contractors.
Referrals from people you know are usually the best source and you can also call local building supply companies, architects, Realtors, Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, home inspectors and lenders involved in the construction industry.
Make sure the company has a permanent business address and phone number. Many have only cell phone numbers, email addresses or web sites that may have information about the company and projects completed for previous customers.
Ask how long the company has been in business. Longevity suggest financial stability, as the turnover rate for building companies, like other small entrepreneurs, is unusually high during the initial five years after putting up signs.
If local remodelers or builders are required to be licensed in you area call the local agency to see if there are any unresolved complaints against the company you are considering. Keep in mind that licensing requirements in some areas may consist of no more than simply paying a fee and not qualifications of experience and may not bear much consideration in you decision.
Ask for a copy of both Workers Compensation and Liability insurance certificates to protect yourself from liability in situations involving property damage or job-site related injuries.
Ask the remodeler or builder to share the names and phone numbers of customers you can call to seek the opinions of his work and the level of customer service his company provided. Try to find a job similar to the one you are planning.
Another good indicator is the builders or remodelers participation in trade organizations such as National Association of Home Builders, Remodelers Councils, Certified Graduate Remodeler, or Certified Kitchen Designer.
Finally, ask yourself if you feel comfortable with the builder or remodeler and feel confident that his company will do the work according to your plans, budget and specifications. It may take more time and effort to find a builder or remodeler by way of a careful process than simply selecting a contractor based on a cost estimate, but the benefits will pay off in the long run when the job is completed to your satisfaction.