ContractorWe’ve all heard the remodeling horror stories. Contractors who “take the money and run” prior to completing jobs, provide low-ball bids and then slap homeowners with substantially higher invoices at the end, or extend the timeframe on the day the work was supposed to be completed.

Stories like these can make a homeowner cringe at the thought of a remodeling project. However, not all contractors are alike. Just a few precautionary steps can help you avoid a nightmare and end up with a dream remodel.

Phone friends or family members and collect three to five referrals. Ask questions about the reliability of the contractor, the overall satisfaction of work performed, whether proposed timeframes were met, and whether the contractor stuck to the budget.

Interview each contractor, and dig deep to find out pertinent information about the contractor and the company. How long has the company been in business? Have they ever operated under a different name? Have they ever been sued? Also, search online with the Better Business Bureau, and even call your local Chamber of Commerce to see if they have any information.

Ask each contractor for references, then phone all references and set up a time to see the contractor’s work if you are contemplating a large job. Include jobs done in the past so you can see if the contractor responded to issues after they were paid. Since the contractor will most likely provide references for only exceptionally happy past customers, consider asking if you may contact the contractor’s most recent three clients.

Once you feel comfortable with the contractor get a written estimate and review the contents carefully. Look for specific information regarding products and materials (make, model, color, brand, etc.), a clearly defined timeline and payment schedule, warranty information for work and materials, a mediation or arbitration clause, and a cancellation clause that allows a homeowner to cancel within three days of signing.

Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure the contractor and any subcontractors have a license (if required by your state), liability insurance (to protect your property from any accidental damage), and workers’ compensation insurance (so you are not held liable for anyone injured on your property).

Taking the above steps will not only provide you with the peace of mind that you are working with a true professional, it could save you thousands of dollars in the long run!

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