Choosing a Contractor
Finding a qualified remodeling professional for your home-improvement project doesn’t have to be a difficult task. By following these guidelines, you will make the selection process easier and be better prepared to make an informed decision.
Determine who you need
The type of professional you need depends, in part, on the size and complexity of your intended remodeling project. If you’re not sure, see “Contractor Choices” below for more information on the various options.
Choosing your remodeler is the most important decision in a remodeling project, so take your time and be thorough in your search. Remember that nearly half of all projects signed by a remodeling contractor are the result of client referrals, so ask for recommendations from friends, neighbors, business colleagues, lenders, architects/designers, suppliers and subcontractors—people who will be familiar with the quality and scope of work of the person they recommend.
Choose a local, established professional
Look for a home-improvement contractor with an established business in your area. Local remodelers are compelled to perform quality work that satisfies their customers, allowing their business to survive and grow. Local contractors can be checked through references from past customers, local professional associations or through your local Better Business Bureau.
Check for proper paperwork
Many states, but not all, require contractors to be licensed and/or bonded. Contact your state or local licensing agencies to ensure the contractor meets all requirements. Also ask to see a copy of the contractor’s certificate of insurance to obtain the name of his or her insurance agency and verify coverage. Most states require a contractor to carry worker’s compensation, property damage and personal liability insurance. Make sure the contractor’s insurance coverage meets all the minimum requirements.
Compiled from information provided by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, www.nari.org.
The general contractor can coordinate home improvements which don’t require professional design services.
The design/build contractor provides both design and construction services within the same company, and can see your project through from start to finish, keeping design, engineering and budget in mind.
The architect or designer may be needed for major remodeling projects which require construction drawings to define contract and permit procurement. If your remodeler does not provide design services, you can use a professionally trained architect, but choose an architect experienced in remodeling, as he or she will be more versed in challenges that remodeling represents.
The certified or licensed designer is another option to obtain construction drawings. Designers may have expertise in specific areas of the home such as kitchens, baths, space design, etc., so they may be the best choice for a targeted remodeling project.
Check for Certifications
Trade certifications are good indicators of dedication, professionalism and knowledge of the industry, and remodelers are required to meet certain industry criteria to maintain their certifications. For example, NARI offers seven designations: Certified Remodeler (CR), Certified Remodeler Specialist (CRS), Certified Remodeler Associate (CRA), Certified Kitchen & Bath Remodeler (CKBR), Green Certified Professional (GCP), Certified Lead Carpenter (CLC), and Certified Remodeling Carpenter (CRC).