A Home Improvement Contractor Checklist

How to make sure you choose a reasonably priced, reliable home improvement contractor.

A home improvement project is a major investment. Much time, effort and money will go into creating home improvements to make your home more enjoyable, livable and more valuable. The success level of your project will depend primarily on the person at the head of the project, namely, your home improvement contractor.

The home improvement contractor you hire should be able to schedule, coordinate, plan and activate those plans to provide you with the results you want in a timely and efficient manner. The abilities of the home improvement contractor you choose will determine the overall success of your home improvement project.

Home improvement centers, online sites and friends and neighbors are all good places to begin your search for a good home improvement contractor. It’s a good idea to try to get at least three home improvement contractors to give you a quote on your project.

Home Improvement Contractor

As you choose your home improvement contractor make sure you give each contractor the same set of plans or specifications to bid by. You want to make sure they all have the information and requirements. When you choose your home improvement contractor make sure you are comparing each contractor against the same checklist.

The checklist should include things like checking references, checking with the Better Business Bureau, comparing materials quality, comparing the timeline for completion, the professionalism of the quote and of course the price. The person with the lowest price may not always offer the best bargain.

To ensure that you’re getting the most reliable and highest quality home improvement contractor the materials they will be using should be investigated thoroughly. Sometimes a contractor with a lower bid may be using less than optimal materials. Make sure you check everything on your list before you make a final decision.

Professional home improvement contractors will have everything written in a professional contract before they begin the work. Read the contract carefully and get answers to any questions you have before you sign the agreement. Taking the time to choose your home improvement contractor carefully will give you the reward of a professionally completed project you can enjoy now and in the future.

5 Common Misconceptions About Home Improvement Contractor

Deciding on home improvements is a big decision. It can be a scary process knowing that someone is going to dismantle your house with the promise of making it look better. Finding and trusting a contractor isn’t easy. You’ve probably heard the warnings or horror stories from neighbors or friends of construction projects gone wrong. However, that doesn’t mean the myths are all true. There are plenty of misconceptions that many homeowners hold about contractors and this article is designed to weed out the truth. Here are some of the 5 most common misconceptions:

1. You’ll Save Money Doing It Yourself

Sure, it seems like you’ll save much more by taking on the project by yourself, but that usually isn’t the case for several reasons. One of them may be because you don’t have all the necessary tools for the job, and as everyone knows, tools can be expensive. By the time you’ve bought all the power tools you need, you would probably end up paying more than the price of a contractor’s service. There is also the possibility of making a mistake. Even the smallest mistake could end up putting the whole project in jeopardy. It’s better to have an experienced contract do it right the first time.

2. The Higher the Price the More Reliable

The price tag shouldn’t be your focus when searching for a dependable contractor. In fact, the reason contractors often charge a higher price is because there aren’t many other companies close-by to do the project for a lower cost. It’s the simple rule of supply and demand. Instead, you should choose a contractor based on legitimate reviews by real customers. That’s the best way to judge the services of any contractor. And if possible, find some pictures of the contractor’s previous work so you can review them for yourself!

3. Hiring One Contractor is Risky

These days there are specialists for everything. It may seem like a good idea to hire a different contractor for every different project you may have, but trust me, it’s not. It’s actually better to just hire one contractor for the whole house or multiple projects if necessary. Hiring more than one can cause a headache for all parties involved, take more time and cost more money in the end. It’s best to go with a well-rounded home improvement contractor such as IPC Restoration and Renovation.

4. Contractors Can Sue Me if They Get Injured

Any construction site can be dangerous and they usually are. Any professional contractor will know this and hopefully be ready for any accidents that may come up. This means they should have insurance. Never hire a contractor that isn’t insured. Hiring uninsured contractors is like inviting a stranger over after an ice storm; If they get hurt, it will be your fault. Therefore, always check with the company about insurance and make sure you will not be liable for any injuries they might sustain on your property.

5. I Should Plan Before Hiring a Contractor

Although it would make the contractor’s job a little easier, it’s not necessary to have everything planned out before scheduling the work to be done. In some cases, it’s even better not to have it all planned. Usually the contractor will help you with your plans and alert you to any problems or give helpful suggestions on what should be done. If they are very experienced, they will know what won’t work, what will look weird, or what the best option for a particular space is. As long as they are a trustworthy company, you should always let them just as much of the planning process as they are the construction process.

Hopefully these 5 tips have cleared up any misconceptions that might be out there about home improvement work and hiring a contractor. While it isn’t a guarantee, these tips should help you find a quality and reputable contractor like IPC Restoration and Renovation so you don’t end up telling the same horror story you heard from that neighbor or friend about their home remodel!

Top Ten Standards to Look For a Home Improvement Contractor

Finding a quality home improvement contractor is not always easy. Anybody can sell you on something that sounds great, but how can you know if you’re really dealing with a quality company? Home improvement companies come in all varieties, from shysters to newbies to companies that have been in business for decades. These ten tips will help you pick out the best fit for you no matter what kind of company, from a replacement window contractor to a roofer, you may need.

1) Does the company offer free estimates?

Never go with a company that doesn’t value a relationship with you enough to do a free estimate. When you pick a company you’ll be spending quite a bit of money with them, so they should be willing to invest a bit of time in you.

2) Does the company offer an honest estimate? Is it detailed?

Many people don’t know that there’s a difference between an estimate and a bid. A bid is a legally binding statement, while an estimate is not. Some unscrupulous companies will pitch a too-low estimate to sell to you then and then hit you on the back end with “fees” they tacked on. If you get detailed, realistic prices and time frames, you increase the odds that it’s an honest estimate. In addition, the detailed estimate gives you legal recourse if the company does work you didn’t authorize.

3) What kind of customer guarantee does the home improvement company give?

How long do you have to report problems? What kind of certification can a given home improvement contractor give you on his or her workers? What kind and quality of materials do they use? You should be asking these questions in the initial meeting and get it in writing on any contract. If the answers are vague or deceptive, run.

4) How willing is the company to work with your schedule?

Of course, you don’t necessarily want people in your home you don’t know. However, some home improvement jobs can take several days or even a couple of weeks? If the job is only on the outside, say you’re getting a roof replaced, you don’t necessarily have to be there. However, if entering your home is required, are they willing to work with your schedule?

5) Is the contractor insured, and what protection do you get out of it? Do you have any liability?

Let’s say you’re having your roof fixed and a worker falls off into your bushes, breaking his or her arm. Who’s responsible for taking that worker to the hospital, who’s responsible for paying the bill, and who ultimately is liable for what? Any decent company is insured and does not hold you liable for accidents common in the line of work. Get all liability spelled out in the contract.

6) Is the contractor truly knowledgeable in the area you want improved?

If you’re wanting energy-efficient windows replaced then a “general contractor” who’s done roofing for fifteen years probably is not the right contractor for you. Make sure the home improvement contractor you pick has plenty of in-depth detailed experience with the specific improvements you’re having done.

7) Does the company belong to the local Better Business Bureau?

BBB seals don’t always mean a lot on the Internet, but they still pull their weight locally. If, for instance, you live in Cincinnati, Ohio and you want to know a contractor’s worth, the contractor that’s part of the local Better Business Bureau has been around for years and has a reputation to maintain, while one who isn’t may be a fly-by-night company.

8) Does the company offer financing? If so, is it legitimate?

Some companies are large enough to be able to offer their own financing. Others don’t want to deal with the headache of an entire finance department. If contractor-provided financing is important to you, be clear on that when first talking to contractors. If one offers you financing, check it out thoroughly. Are they doing it in house? Do they have an arrangement with a bank? Do they charge a reasonable interest rate or too high? When do payments start? Any financing is, at heart, the extension of a line of credit. If the company isn’t doing the same checks as a credit card company, look twice.

9) Does the contractor have offices you can visit?

Some contractors are one-person specialist affairs and may even work out of a home office, while others are larger companies with their own offices. No matter what kind or size of contractor you’re dealing with, you should be able to visit an office. You’re not going to get home improvement from a company across the country, you’re going to get it locally. Therefore, their physical offices should be accessible and professional. If you can’t visit their office the company could easily be a fly-by-night operation to take your deposit and disappear.

10) Can you get references you can look up and call on your own? Would any references be willing to have you visit to see examples of the home improvement company’s work?

This one should be a no-brainer, but all too often it’s a detail that gets overlooked in the furor of home improvement contracting. Can you see examples of their work? Can to talk to people they’ve done work for in the past? Just one reference doesn’t cut it, nor do three who you can’t find in the phone book. Anyone can pretend to be three different people, and it’s easy to get call forwarding for three different numbers.

A Few Simple Ways to Find a Home Improvement Contractor

The good news for anyone interested in finding a home improvement contractor is that it is not a difficult task and often you won’t need to do anything more than look at the yellow pages where you can then go over all of the list of home improvement contractors. Of course, you must keep in mind that opting for the largest advertisement is not always the best course of action and it in fact requires a little more in-depth research before you are able to find a home improvement contractor that fits the bill in every way.

Using one of the popular search engines such as Google, MSN and Yahoo! is another good way of finding a home improvement contractor. In fact, this option will prove to be very convenient as you won’t need to visit different contractors because all of the relevant information will be readily available online. You can be sure that each home improvement contractor will provide their online background data as well as sample photographs of previously completed works for you to assess their capabilities.

An online search is probably the best way of find a home improvement contractor and to get more relevant hits you need to use terms that apply to certain locations as well as certain industries. Online searches will allow you to not only find a home improvement contractor but to also compare different contractors and also get quotes online so that the whole process of hiring is greatly simplified.

Yet another option is to check out a directory of home improvement contractors. This is an online list that will help you find one in your neighborhood, and in addition, it will also provide information regarding the type of business a home improvement contractor is engaged in and there is also information available about the contractor’s experience.

An online home improvement contractor’s directory is a simple yet effective means of find a home improvement contractor and once some prospective contractors catch your attention you can then contact them over the phone and get clarifications about the type of work you want done. Of course, you should also ask for references and be sure that he has the necessary skills and experience to satisfactorily complete your work.

Even word of mouth is a good and effective way of finding a home improvement contractor and so it will be a good idea to talk to family members and friends for more leads. The factor that is most important in deciding who is going to do your home improvement work is the quality of work that the contractor is able to show.