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How Ready Are You to Buy a Home?

Determining Your Dream Home and Finding It!

Factory Built Homes Are Worth a Look

Purchase Manufactured Homes with FHA Loan

How to Buy a Foreclosed Home

Pros and Cons of Corner Lots

Know the Neighborhood Before You Buy

Tune in to an Open House on the Radio

Finding a Qualified Broker or Agent

Shopping for a Loan and Choosing a Lender

How to Improve Your Credit

How to Survive the Loan Application Process

Making an Offer and Signing Contracts

Cancel Your Contract in 3 Days

Understanding the Closing/Settlement Process

Choosing Home Inspection and Settlement Professionals

Double Check Your New Home - The Walkthrough

Know Your Consumer Rights

Seniors Have Many Housing Opportunities

Preparing for the Big Day -- Relocating Moving

Make Your Home Your Castle - Cost Effective Redecorating Ideas


Structural Changes

Finding a Remodeler to Help...

Select Wisely!

Safety Concerns

You have to be sure you make the right decision! The person you choose to remodel your house will be carrying a hammer, spending time around your children and your dog, and have access to your checkbook (in a figurative sense).

It is absolutely critical that you make the right decision. You can't afford to make a wrong decision.

Always Always Always...

...ask around.

Ask your friends and neighbors for referrals. Conduct careful interviews and check references. Visit previous jobs to check the quality level of the work. And take every precaution you can. Your choice will impact not only your budget, but the quality of the work and the safety of the situation. This is one area in which you cannot skimp or cut corners. You will get what you pay for. If it comes down to a choice between a quality product and quality professional, choose the professional every time.

How do you begin?

Close to home.

The best place is to start is in your own neighborhood and within your own circle of friends. Ask people you know who have had recent remodeling projects who they used and if they were satisfied. Referrals from friends, neighbors and business colleagues are the best way to find a remodeling contractor.

Avoid the Yellow Pages!

It's NOT the best guide. Whatever you do, don't start with the largest advertisements in the yellow pages! Remodeling is serious business and a serious investment of your time and money-qualified referrals, research and legwork are the best approach to finding the right person for the project. You should set aside a length of time to pre-qualify a prospective contractor before you start interviewing. Look for a company that has good credentials and credibility-not the lowest price.

The person you choose will determine the success of your project. The good news is that you can have a success by conducting qualifying interviews, following up on references and credentials, and by considering all aspects of the remodeling project-the physical work and the emotional strain.

Buy Service...

Not product.

To begin, consciously decide to buy service over product. Any contractor can provide product. If you have decided to hire a professional to run your remodeling project, you have already made the decision to buy service. Keep that in mind when you are arranging and conducting your interviews. You need to look for the person whom you feel will provide you the best all-around service available, above-and-beyond the necessary construction skills.

Let's Look at Interview Questions We'll help you interview potential remodelers. Do you know what to ask?

Interviewing Remodelers

It's not so difficult. Think About Personality And make a list. Ask yourself what type of person you want to work with on a daily basis for the duration of the project.

Think About Personality

And make a list. Ask yourself what type of person you want to work with on a daily basis for the duration of the project.

There are several questions you should ask potential remodelers to establish credibility and credentials; but in your search for facts about the company, don't overlook asking those questions that will reveal personality traits of the contractor and the company. The emotional success of the project is as important as the construction side of it and will be determined by how much (or how little) stress is incurred by having the contractor and his or her employees and subcontractors in your home.

Ask yourself if you would mind greeting this person at the crack of dawn, or running into him or her after a long day at the office. Does he or she look like the type of person who would be easy to work with and who would be careful with your belongings?

Face it: this individual will be a part of your home life for the duration of the project. You need to choose wisely.

What to Look for...

The key questions.

There are many qualifying factors you should establish to find the right person for you and for your job. The following questions will help you establish a company's qualifications and reputation. You should add your own questions or qualifications to determine the comfort level and trust factor with each remodeler you interview. Here are some of the questions you should definitely ask any remodeler you interview. Use them as your measuring stick for making comparisons and determining the best match.

  • How long have you been in business? It is a fact that 95 percent of remodeling businesses fail in the first five years. You should look for a company with an established business history in your community.

  • Who will be assigned as project supervisor for the job? Also ask whom you should contact if the supervisor is not available. Be sure to get exact names and contact phone numbers for all persons who will be involved in the project. And ask if these workers are employees or subcontractors.

  • What is the time frame for starting the project? This is your lead in for questions about work scheduling. You should ask: What is your estimate for completion? How early will your crew normally begin work? When will they normally quit for the day? Will I be contacted about delays or changes in the schedule? By whom? Etc.

  • What is your approach to a project of this scope? This will give you an idea of how the contractor works and what to expect during the project. Listen carefully to the answer. This is one of the big indicators of how the project will progress and the company's work ethic.

  • How do you operate? In other words, how is your firm organized? Do you have employees or do you hire subcontractors? Some firms will have other positions-some may have "handymen" to help with smaller jobs or follow-up work, while others might have in-house designers. You should know what parts of your project will be handled by staff, and which will be contracted out to independent contractors, such as the plumbing or electric.

  • Is your company a full service or specialty firm? If you are planning a small project, say replacing the bathroom plumbing, you may be better off hiring a specialty plumbing firm or a bathroom remodeler. However, if your project involves multiple changes, entire rooms or additions, you should consult a full service or design-build firm.

  • Do you have design services available? If you are considering a large or involved project, you will need design services. If the contractor does not have design-build capabilities, you should consider hiring an architect. Depending on the size and scope of the project, you may need an architect or structural engineer.

  • Does your company carry workers compensation and liability insurance? Ask for copies of the insurance certificates to verify coverage. In addition, some states require licensing and registration. If your state does, ask if the contractor is in compliance with the law and ask for a copy of his or her registration and license. Confirm the license number with your local jurisdiction.

  • May I have a list of references for projects you have completed which are similar to mine? The contractor should be able to supply you with a minimum of three references, including names, telephone numbers and addresses. As a follow up to this question, ask how long ago the project was completed and if the contractor can arrange a site visit to see the finished job.

  • What percentage of their business is repeat or referral business? This will give you a good indication about the company's customer satisfaction. Most remodeling businesses attribute over 50 percent of their annual volume to customer referrals, while some claim up to 90 percent of their total annual sales.

  • How many projects like yours has the contractor completed in the past 12 months? This will help you determine the contractor's familiarity with your type of project. You should ensure that a good portion of those completed projects were similar to the type of project you are proposing.

These Are the Basics...but there are other questions you really should ask.

The Rest of the Questions

Your interview is not over.

Continuing Your Questioning

Other questions you could ask in your interview session include:

  • Will you provide me with a written proposal? What will it entail?
  • What type of warranty do you offer for this type of project?
  • What should I expect during the remodeling project?
  • How do you handle changes to the project?
  • What major products do you normally use?
  • How would you describe your company's work philosophy?
  • What can I do to prepare my home for the project?
  • What will you do to minimize the dust and dirt in my home during the job?
  • Will you provide site clean-up after the job is finished?

There are many questions you can ask to minimize the confusion and educate yourself about the remodeling process and your particular project, but the most important question you need to ask is if you feel comfortable with and trust the person you are about to hire. Your answer to that question should make the hiring decision a little easier.


Avoid remodelers at all costs when:

  • You can't verify the name, address, telephone number or credentials of the remodeler.
  • The salesperson tries to pressure you into signing a contract.
  • The company or salesperson says your home will be used for advertising purposes so you will be given a special, low rate.
  • The builder/remodeler tells you a special price is available only if you sign the contract today.
  • No references are furnished.
  • You are unable to verify the license or insurance.
  • You are asked to pay for the entire job in advance, or to pay in cash to a salesperson instead of by check or money order to the company itself.
  • The company cannot be found in the telephone book, is not listed with the local Better Business Bureau or with a local trade association.
  • If the contractor does not offer, inform or extend the three days Right of Recision in writing as required by law. This grace period allows you to change your mind and declare the contract null and void without penalty, if the agreement was solicited at some place other than the contractor's place of business or appropriate trade premises-in your home, for instance.

Be cautious if:

  • You are given vague or reluctant answers.

  • The contractor exhibits poor communication skills or descriptive powers.

  • The contractor is not accessible.

  • Your questions are not answered to your satisfaction.

  • The contractor is impatient and does not listen.

  • Only the work is addressed, instead of your needs as the homeowner.

  • There is no presentation book of previous projects presented.

Now That You Know How to Find a Remodeler...

Let's learn about trimming your remodeling budget.

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