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Home Remodel – Buyer Beware!

June 26, 2012

Cindy Donaldson, Director of Marketing & Sales – Founders Insurance Group

I’m in the middle of a home remodel; it’s a challenge even for someone who has lived through it a few times! It is always exciting to see the transformation happen, and it is always wonderful when it’s over. The “construction” part is always the most difficult – even more so if you end up with a contractor that’s less than Grade A top shelf. Here are a few hints – some are my own, and some are from our friends at Trusted Choice!

  1. If it looks too good to be true, then it is. Run away. Close the door and don’t look back. If a contractor’s estimate comes in 50% less than everyone else’s, there is something shady here. Don’t be tempted.
  2. Permits – this will depend upon the town or city in which you live. It’s best to go to your local building department and ask. You can also ask the Building Inspector to come out and inspect before you start. He or She will give you tips and also tell you what must be done so you are up to code. Better to know before you start then have to rip something apart after you are done. Yes, I’ve been there.
  3. Estimates – always get them, and get a few. Compare. Contrast. Ask a lot of questions. Don’t be shy!
  4. Know what you want – especially when it comes to grades of materials. There is a huge price difference between pine and oak! Also – you might want to think about buying your materials on your own if you know what you are doing vs. having the contractor get them. He or she will mark them up – as they should. But if you don’t really know what you are doing – pay the contractor, it will be worth it in the end!
  5. References – again, don’t be shy. Ask for them, and actually call them. Better yet – ask to see their work!
  6. Angie’s List and the Better Business Bureau – see if they are listed. What are other people saying about them? Don’t be afraid to walk away from someone who was referred to you by a best friend yet every reference from everyone else has been awful!
  7. Contracts – read them carefully, know what you are getting into!
  8. Money – NEVER EVER EVER pay for an entire job upfront! It is realistic to pay a down payment to cover supplies, but I usually pay in increments. 1/3 upfront, 1/3 midway and 1/3 when it is completed to MY satisfaction!
  9. Ah…and here is my insurance plug: Make sure your contractor gives you a certificate of Insurance. If he is using subcontractors – get theirs as well.
  10. Lastly – always contact your insurance agent if you are doing any kind of rehab. Your insurance carrier will want to know. Often times your policy will need to be endorsed or even sometimes changed dependent on what you are doing.

While you’re at it, why not head to your local hardware store and get yourself a tool belt – it’s kind of empowering to knock down a wall, rip out a cabinet and sling a hammer.

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