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Hiring and Managing a Home Renovation Contractor – The Do’s and Don’ts

On a research made by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, residential or home remodeling is a multi-billion market and continues to show its strength in an otherwise bad housing market. This is due to the growing realization of homeowners nowadays of the fact that enhancing their current residence through remodeling (bathroom, kitchen, roofing or windows) can be a great alternative than moving to a new home these days.

Home renovation projects can as much as buying a new car, depending on the scale of the project though, or sometimes even cost more than a new house! Unfortunately, not all home owners sees the significance along with the risks of a remodeling project. A lot of them also don’t take enough time to choose the right contractor. Hiring the wrong contractor can cause delays, over budgets, and in worst cases, a substandard job.

Here’s a great lists of “Do’s and Don’ts” for your home renovation planning:

The Do’s

• Always start with doing market check. Make sure that your planned or proposed improvements are reasonable enough for the market value of your home.

• Be very careful with project planning. Can you live at home while work is underway? A very important question.

• Do some research and do background checks on multiple contractors before selecting one. Consider working experience, past client’s feedbacks, insurances, licenses, and trade and supplier references, etc.

• If possible, do accept at least 3 bidders to get the best price out of the contractors.

• As much as possible, always provide accurate specifications and plans that help and enable contractor to determine the scope and cost of the job when requesting for bids.

• Do check to ensure that the your selected contractors are properly license, taking into consideration, their disciplinary history pertaining to their license. You can this info at your Contractors State License Board.

• Do some checking on your local building department, consumer protection agency, trade associations or unions, and the Better Business Bureau for more background info on your contractor.

• Do checkout your contractors previous works and get in contact with their references.

• Do make sure the contract includes “retention.

• Do keep files with document copies – specially contracts – for any home remodeling or improvement project.

• Do ensure you receive unconditional lien releases (from material suppliers and subcontractors.)

• Do frequent inspection of both the quality and quantity of the work, and be sure to do a walk through when finalizations come.

• Do consult with an attorney for basic legal purposes, specially when a mechanics’ lien is filed against your property..

The Dont’s

• Don’t hire an unlicensed contractor, or someone who can’t prove the validity of his license.

• Don’t hire someone yet before considering other contractors or getting at least 3 bids.

• Don’t be pressured with the more persuading and aggressive sales agents. Take the time to ensure that the contractor is capable of doing the job within your budget and complete the project professionally.

• Do not act as a builder or an owner.

• Don’t sign any contract or papers before reading and understanding the terms and conditions fully.

• Don’t deal with subcontractors or extra workers without consulting with your primary contractor.

• Don’t pay in full and in cash without a proper receipt.

• Do not exceed the legal limit when it comes to making down payments, usually it’s 10 percent. Most importantly, don’t make progress payments exceeding the amount of the overall progress of the job… and along with this tip, don’t try to hold back payments unnecessarily as well. Both can create frictions that will not be good for the project.

• Do not hesitate and forget to ask your contractor any questions you may have before and during the course of the work.

• Don’t pay in full, or make the final payment, until you’re completely happy and satisfied with the work done.

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