Always ask for a detailed written contract, even for small projects. It will protect you and help ensure that you and the contractor understand the scope of the job and the price.
- How long have you been in business?
- Who will be assigned as project supervisor for the job?
- Who will be working on the project? Are they employees or subcontractors?
- Does your company carry workers’ compensation and liability insurance?
- (Always verify this information by calling the agency. A copy of an insurance certificate does not let you know if the policy is still current. Even if the certificate has an expiration date, you cannot tell if the insurance has been canceled by either party. If licensing is required in your state also ask if the contractor is licensed and call to verify compliance with the law. Not all states offer or require licensing. Check with your local or state government agencies.)
- What is your approach to a project such as this?
- How many projects like mine have you completed in the past year?
- May I have a list of references from those projects? Call them and consider visiting a completed job.
- May I have a list of business referrals or suppliers?
- What percentage of your business is repeat or referral business?
- Are you a member of a national trade association? Member of Chamber of commerce?
- Any adverse filing with Better Business Bureau?
Make sure the remodeling contract includes the following:
- Contractor’s name, addresses, telephone number, and license number.
- Start dates and projected completion dates.
- Payment schedule.
- Provision for conflict resolutions in case a dispute arises.
- The clause giving you the right to cancel the contract within 3 business days.
- A statement that the contractor will obtain and purchase all necessary permits.
- Specifics on duties of homeowner and duties of the contractor (i.e., clean-up, trash removal, hours of access, workers’ use of your phone and bathroom permission, if any, and time frame for lunch).
- Project specifications (i.e., precise materials, appliance brands, measurements, etc.).
- Visual representation of the project, if possible.
- Written warranty covering materials and workmanship, including the length of warranty.
- Specification on how changes to the original plan will be handled.
- Clause for final inspection and sign-off prior to final payment.
Helpful hints for a remodeling contract:
- Look closely at the budget to see which line items are actual numbers and which are allowances. Allowances are merely placeholder estimates and actual costs can be higher, significantly increasing the budget.
- Most remodeling projects exceed the actual budget – be sure to have a buffer savings in case project costs increase.
- If you are on a tight budget, resist the “while you’re here mentality” – it may be more cost-efficient to do an added project during the current construction than at a later date, but it’s even more cost-effective not to do it at all.
- Be realistic about your wants and needs for the remodeling project avoid getting carried away.
- To save money, consider purchasing your own appliances, light fixtures, etc. Contractors often tack on a surcharge to purchase these items for you.
- Remember make sure you have a remodeling contract.