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.

Things You Should Consider When Remodeling The Kitchen

The kitchen reflects lifestyle and should also be good enough to accommodate all cooking needs. Today the kitchen is much more than just a cooking space, it can be where you dine with your family too. Open plan kitchens have become very popular and when you have everything sorted out, you will love the beautiful addition that is your kitchen to your living space. If you do not like the way your kitchen looks now, you can always have it remodeled to suit your preferences.

Kitchen remodeling contractors offer very good services to help you create a beautiful cooking space complete with enough storage and space. Modern kitchens are colorful and designed in such a way that they match with the d├ęcor of your home. Here are some of the most important elements you should consider when remodeling the kitchen.

Space available – A spacious kitchen is easier to design and it will also give you a pleasant time getting everything organized. The size of the space you have in the kitchen should be used to decide what layout is most suitable. Your designer can help you come up with a solid plan for the remodeling so you are able to make choices that suit the square footage that you have available.

Existing layout – Sometimes all you need is to make a few changes to the existing layout to have your dream kitchen, but in others, you might not like anything about the layout hence may need to even have the doors and windows replaced. Modifications to the existing layout are much easier and cheaper than having to replace almost everything. Call in an expert contractor and sell your idea to them so they can decide whether it is possible to work with existing layout or not to achieve your expected results. Think about what works and what doesn’t work with the current layout to make right decisions.

Kitchen layout options – Kitchen remodels can be transforming to your layout and you must think about the layout options that you have. Of course the amount of space available will determine what kitchen layouts are possible. The most common layout options that you have include one wall which is an ultimate space saver, gallery or walk through layout that works for small spaces, L-shaped layout that maximizes corner spaces and eliminated traffic, U-shaped that flows traffic around your kitchen island, island and peninsula layouts. Your contractor should be able to get yourself familiar with the options and help you decide the best for your home and space.

Infrastructure – The age of the building or the kitchen can expose you to other concerns during the remodeling process. Think about how possible it is for the structure to accommodate everything you want to install as you remodel and additional works that might be needed in the space to achieve your desired results. For instance, will the remodeling project have an effect on the walls, ceilings and floors? If yes, can you accommodate the additional needs?

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.