Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Selecting a Home Builder/Remodeler
Make sure you ask yourself, AND the residential contractor trying to win your business, the following questions:
- Are they licensed? According to the North Carolina law if you hire someone for any home improvement that costs $30,000 or more, that person is required to be a North Carolina licensed General Contractor. Beware of quotes that are just under the $30,000 limit from un-licensed persons.
- Are they insured? There are two basic types of insurance you want to make sure are in place when you hire someone to work on your property, general liability and workers compensation. General liability covers you and your property if something goes wrong and damage occurs. Workers Compensation covers you if other people are injured (or worse, die) while working on your property. North Carolina requires any company with 3 or more employees carry workers compensation insurance. Beware of “I’m not required to have that insurance”.
- Do they have references? Contact people who recently used the general contractor in order to verify if the experience went well. Also contact a client who used the contractor over a year ago in order to verify if the work held up well and how responsive he was to warranty issues. It is also a good idea to call his material supplier to verify if he is current on his accounts. Beware of “I don’t have any projects close to this area”.
- Do they offer support during the quoting process? A professional home contractor will offer detailed answers to your questions. They should invite you to review their web site and it should be rich with information. They should provide you with conceptual drawings showing your house with how the project will look. And they should provide you with detailed specifications on what types of materials will be used throughout the process. Beware of “we’ll figure that out when we come to it” or “you’ll love it once you can see it”.
- Is there a detailed contract? The contract should be easily understood and cover both the home owner and contractor. At a minimum it should cover start and end dates, what the total cost is, when the draws are to be paid, the drawings and the current revision level, it should reference the specification sheet, how cost overruns are handled, how change orders are handled, what the warranty covers and for how long. He should allow you to review the contract for a period of time before you sign it. Beware of “sign today and you are entitled to special offers”.
- Will your home and neighborhood be treated respectfully? The contractor should discuss who will be responsible for trash disposal, whether he will provide a porta-jon, what hours they will start and end work each day and whether or not he will be responsible for restoring your lawn back to the way it was before he got there. As a rule I will leave flyers in the neighbors’ mail box letting them know how to contact me if they have any problems from us working in their neighborhood.
- How much is the deposit? Beware of a contractor who asks for more than 15% up front. It a sign he may be financially unstable. Or worse, will take your deposit and never return.
- How is the job paid for? Checks should be made out to the business name, not the builders’ name. A contractor who wants his checks made out to him personally is usually looking to work with cash in order to avoid reporting income and avoid paying taxes. Payment for work should keep pace with the work progress. A reputable home builder will only ask for draws at specific preplanned milestones in the project, like at successful completion of inspections. Beware of “I need a draw early this week to pay my help”.
- What are the unknown and unseen differences? There are many different ways to build a house or renovate a kitchen. If a builder is looking to save a buck in order to maximize his profit he can skimp on preferred building techniques and just get by meeting code. A quality builder takes pride in knowing he has built the project above minimum code requirements. If a floor that won’t have bounce in it when you walk across it is important to you, you need to find a builder who isn’t the cheapest and knows the engineering that goes into “code plus” construction. Beware of pat answers to your questions about how things are built.
- What is the warranty? A warranty is only good for as long as the builder is in business. A one year warranty on labor is an absolute minimum. If you feel you didn’t receive due attention during the construction process it probably won’t improve any after he’s been paid in full. Beware of contractors who don’t follow through on what the say, especially the little things.
Please contact us for more information about choosing a home remodeler or home builder today!