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Courses in this Department

How to Buy Appliances

How to Save on Energy Bills

Remodeling Value

Woods and Islands in the Kitchen

All About Feng Shui

Ceiling Fan Facts and Fallacies

How to Select Carpet

Buy the Fireplace of the Future

How to Hire a Contractor

Get Wired with Smart Technology

Divide and Conquer

Secret Storage Spots

Redecorate Your Home on the Computer

You Can Decorate with the Stars

Are Your Cleaning Products Making Your Family Ill?


The Best Bet Is to Do Your Homework!

Then check your work.

Checking Credentials

It�s your responsibility.

Don�t Buy Everything You Read

Certificates and promises are nothing if they aren�t backed up.

Sure, you could find a great sounding contractor who gives you all the right answers and even makes you feel good too. But when you ask for those credentials�license, proof of insurance and workers� comp�don�t let it stop there. A certificate doesn�t prove the policy is still in effect. You will need to call the agency that provided the certificate or license and verify that it is still in effect AND in good standing.Anything can happen between the time the certification is presented and when it is shown to you.

Check Out Complaints

Do you know if there are any? Call the local Consumer Affairs or Consumer Protection offices to check on the contractor�s file. While you are at it, call the local Better Business Bureau too. They will all share with you any complaints that have been filed against the contractor or company.

Don�t Assume All References Are Good

Check them out.

Ask for references from past clients�preferably from clients whose projects are similar in nature to yours and which were completed within the past year. Ask tough questions of references. The best question to ask is whether the person would use the contractor or company again without hesitation. This question is much easier than asking if they are good. It doesn�t require a judgement, just a heartfelt answer.

Check Commercial References Too

Don�t limit yourself to past homeowners. Look to subs and suppliers too. You can find out things from commercial references you can�t from another homeowner. Find out if the contractor pays on time. Ask how he treats his subs, employees and suppliers. Determine the quality of his craftsmanship and credit. These will help you in the long run.

Not Comfortable On Your Own?

If you don�t like the idea of checking up on someone, hire someone to do it.

Professional Checkers

They are thorough and can find information you might not have.

Where to Look

It�s as easy as a click. There are a number of services that will review not only your potential contractor, but your contract too.

What�s Not So Easy...
Checking and comparing bids

One of the hardest things to check is how good the estimate is you were given. The best bet is to bid your project to more than one contractor (three is recommended) and compare the prices and services...and reputation. Just be sure you are comparing apples-to-apples. You must be certain that each contractor is bidding on the same scope of work and materials. If one estimates the job using granite and another laminate countertops, the latter will win the bidding war....but will you get what you want? Remember, the lowball bid is not always the best idea. Be sure you know what you are comparing...then make a decision.

Now let's look at some pitfalls to avoid...

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