Whether you are doing a small renovation or a large remodeling project, it is important that you protect yourself so that you get the best outcome for you, your family and your home. Words of wisdom from professional remodelers.
Every project starts with the sales and estimating process.
Kevin Vick of Vick Construction suggests the following:
“Before starting any home improvement project a good plan needs to be in place. I am not talking about the architect’s drawings, but an outline describing what is included in the project. When remodeling a kitchen, for instance, there are so many things to consider. A written plan is imperative for any homeowner before embarking on such a project.
“Let’s say Suzy Smith lives in a home that was built in 1988 and she wants to update her kitchen. The kitchen is still functional, but it is tired, dated, and inefficient due to its layout and non-Energy Star rated appliances. Suzy has collected some great photos and ideas from various websites and home magazines, but she is overwhelmed with the thought of where to begin. That brings up the biggest questions of all…WHAT needs to be done and HOW MUCH is it all going to cost?
“Well, the logical place to begin is with a designer’s drawings, but this may not be in Suzy’s budget. If this is the case then an outline of the project from start to finish is a great beginning. Building professionals refer to the detailed outline as the Scope of Work, and it serves as a written plan of how the new kitchen will look and function. Suzy is going to write out a much simpler version of this, but it will serve as a great organizational and communication tool.
“One benefit to the home owner is that it levels the playing field for the contractors and allows them to produce estimates based on identical elements of the project. The benefit to Suzy is she will obtain an apples-to-apples comparison of the contractors she is interviewing. Without her outline, Suzy will get estimates based on each of the contractors’ interpretations, ideas, and experiences. This will lead to higher costs during the construction of the project due to omissions, assumptions and interpretations by each of the contractors being interviewed.
“Another important benefit for Suzy writing a project outline is it will give her the opportunity to think through the project from start to finish.”
Gonzalo Garcia, president of JRG Builder and Remodelers and the current president of the Remodelers Council of the Greater Houston Builders Association (GHBA) warns about contractor scams in the following discussion:
“There are thousands of legitimate, ethical contractors in business around the country. Unfortunately, there are also scam artists looking to cheat you out of your money who pose as legitimate contractors.”
Here are some warning signs to look out for:
Doesn’t have lnsurance
All professional contractors should be insured and able to show their certificate proving such insurance.
Asks you to sign anything before you’ve hired them
If they want you to sign an “estimate” or “authorization” before you’ve made the decision to hire the contractor, look out. They may be trying to get you to sign what is an actual binding contract.
Doesn’t write contracts
Professionals have clear contracts that outline the job, process, the cost, and helps clarify how problems will be managed. If you don’t have a contract, you are not protected when something goes wrong. Don’t hire anyone who tells you a contract “won’t be necessary.”
Requires cash or payment in full before starting the job
Shady contractors demand cash and then run with the money. Many home owners have been stranded by paying in full up front. A deposit towards materials is common, but only pay it once you have a contract signed by both you and the contractor. It’s also suspect if you’re asked to pay cash to a salesperson instead of a check or money order to a company.
Vastly underbids all other contractors
They may have the best price, but that doesn’t guarantee the best work. Such contractors may cut costs on quality, which can end up costing you more when you have to have the substandard work redone.
Offers “special” pricing
If you’re told you’ve been “chosen” as a demonstration project at a special, low price, or you’re told a low price is good only if you sign a contract today.
Cannot provide customer references
Professional contractors should have references they can provide from current and past clients.
Your best bet is to take your time, do your research and choose someone you feel completely comfortable with. Make sure they don’t have a record of consumer complaints lodged with your local Better Business Bureau. You can also contact the Greater Houston Builders Association (GHBA) for a list of reputable contractors in your area.
The Remodelers Council of the Greater Houston Builders Association is an organization of remodelers and industry professionals. We are dedicated to the promotion of excellence and professionalism within the industry, and public awareness of the Remodelers Council. We achieve this through education, certification and service to the membership, industry and the community. Members of the Remodelers Council give back to the Houston community by participating in an annual charity project. The Remodelers Council holds an annual Garage Sale at the September Texas Home and Garden Show with proceeds going to their local charity project. To join the council or to find a professional remodeler in your area, please visit the GHBA website.