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Almost all homeowners, at one point or another, will do some remodeling to their home. Some remodeling can be done by the "do-it-yourselfer" (replace doors, ceiling fans, etc.); however, major projects will require a professional remodeler. The following is a guide for the selection process.

Where To Get Referrals:



Choose at least three contractors to obtain designs and bids from.

A low bid from a contractor is tempting, but it can be due to many things: craftsmanship, materials, adequate safety precautions, insurance, licensing, experience and competence are very important factors. It can be very risky to choose a contractor based solely on price. Your home will be in the hands of a contractor and you need to chose wisely. There's an age old saying: Quality is never cheapest.

Ask for references: don't just get the names and addresses... CALL THEM! If you can ask to see the work. Ask the contractor for references that will allow you to go look.


WHAT TO ASK THE REFERENCES


WHAT TO ASK THE CONTRACTOR


What do you hope to accomplish with this project?

It's not at all uncommon for homeowners to not know exactly what they want but do have a general idea. Make sure you have a fair understanding of what you want. The more detailed you can be the better understanding the contractor will have of what you want. What is your budget for this project, keeping in mind floor coverings, window treatment, and furniture, etc.? Do you have special needs? If so be ready to explain them to the contractor. A good review of thease things should be done before setting any appointments.

The initial meeting should take place at your home and cover the following items:


THINGS TO REMEMBER


A good contractor will be proud of his past projects and arrange for you to see some of them. Keep in mind the lowest bid is not always the best; there is truth to the statement "You get what you pay for!" You should feel confident with his ability to provide insightful solutions within budget and on a timely basis. If you are uncomfortable for any reason with a contractor then by all means DON'T USE THEM!

Never do business with anyone you don't trust. Even if the trust is misguided. If you'r not comfortable the added stress will make things seam worse than they really are. The contractor may be the best in the business but remodeling your home (especially while living in it) is stressful enough. Most home owner/contractor problems start at the first meeting. Then nothing seams to go right.

Be careful with your money. Never pay a contractor in advance (other than down payments). There should be a payment scheldue set up in advance of the project. There will usually be a down payment and as work progresses other payments will be made. There should be at least a 10% hold until the project is complete. Example: On a project costing $50,000 you should hold at least $5,000 until ALL problems with the project are resolved. This usually is more than enough to cover the small details that are always left until last. Things such as paint touch ups, or minor detail work. Beware of contractors who want to make draws on a weekly basis. Usually making draws in 3 payments plus the final 10% after completion of all details should be enough to get the job done. This 30/30/30/10 method works for both homeowner and contractor. The first 30% as initial deposit should get you more than 35% of the work done before requireing another payment. The second 30% payment should only come after the project has enough work completed to warrant another payment. This should get about 75% or 80% of the entire job done. The third payment should come at this point. When the project is complete do a walk through first on your own, making notes about things that need to be addressed. Such as paint touch ups or missing parts etc... Then do a walk through with the contractor showing your notes and the problem itself. Never be afraid to be picky! You should get what you paid for. Only release the final payment after all of your concerns have been addressed and a lien waiver is in hand. You will need lien waivers from each of the sub contractors too. This shows that the contractor did not just make off with your money and not pay for the labor. This is but one payment method, there are many. The basic idea of any payment method is to protect both homeowner and contractor. be careful not to have it onesided.

DON'Ts



Finally, your contractor should be able to provide you with a clear, written contract.
It should cover all aspects of the project including:
WARNING! Be sure you understand the terms to which you agree, and NEVER sign a blank or partially completed contract.

Construction is a dirty business! The dust gets everywhere. While impossible to stop it all the contractor should make an effort to keep the dust contained or notify you when ever a heavy dust will be produced so you can place sheets over furniture or move sensitive belongings. Most contractors will do this automatically however some home owners would rather do it themselves. Make sure the contractor agrees to sweep up and place all construction debris in a predetermined place or refuse container at the end of every day. Seajay Services

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