The most important step you can take to eliminate headaches during your remodeling project is to choose the right contractor. The following steps will help you pick the right professional for the job:
- Hire only state-licensed contractors
- Get referrals from friends and neighbors who have had similar work done
- Look for remodeling contractors who have done business for years in the community
- Review your plans and your projected budget with each bidder
- Solicit proposals from at least three contractors who have passed the above tests
- Ask each bidder for referrals from past clients-
- Check with the Contractors State License Board (800-321-2752 or www.cslb.ca.gov) to verify licensing, bonding, and compliant record
- Understand every part of a detailed contract
To ensure that the contractors give you an accurate bid you must provide each with copies of the floor plans and a complete list of major appliances, fixtures or other big-ticket items. You should not disclose what other contractors have bid and a professional should not care or need to know this information.
Make sure each bid reflects the actual plans and materials list submitted, with no substitutions or changes. You do not want to find out during construction that a contractor submitted a low bid based on a different scope of work or materials.
If you hire a 'moonlighter' who has no liability or workers compensation insurance, you could be held responsible for damages and/or injuries on your property. And, if the remodeler you paid does not pay a supplier or worker, you subsequently could be held financially responsible by the unpaid party. You should require lien releases upon progress payments to avoid this situation. In addition, if you obtain your own building permits, you will be responsible for making sure the work meets local building codes to get the work permit finaled.
Vague or unclear contracts are just the beginning of poor communication between the contractor and the client. It doesn't take much for a little miscommunication to snowball into an avalanche of problems that are costly, upsetting and an unproductive use of valuable time. A sound, detailed contract between the contractor and homeowner is the best insurance for the smooth completion of any remodel project. Details, details, details! That is the mantra.
A professional remodeling contractor should instill confidence in you with his ability to provide insightful solutions, stay within budget, and finish the work on a timely basis. He will be proud of his past remodel projects and be willing to arrange for you to see some that are similar to your planned remodel project. Always ask the contractor's referrals if their project was completed on time and to their satisfaction.