Home Remodeling Contractors
When looking to remodel your home, BBB suggests that you get at least three comparative bids from licensed contractors. Do not automatically accept the lowest offer, as some bids may be based on different factors. Make sure all of the contractors are giving you their bid based on the same specifications. Ask if there is a charge for an estimate before agreeing to let the contractor inspect your home. Ask for local references and be sure to follow up on them. Ask the references how satisfied they were with the work the company had done, and if possible, inspect the finished work yourself. Check to see if the contractor is a member of a professional association which has standards for its members. There are local licensing, bonding, and insurance requirements so it is important to make sure your contractor is in compliance with all of them. To see if a contractor's license is current and valid you can contact the contractor's licensing board at (8 0 0) 3 2 1 - 2 7 5 2.
Your contract is one of the most important papers you'll sign during the remodeling project. Make sure not to sign a contract with any blank spaces left in it. Doing so is like signing a blank check: the spaces may be filled in later with terms you wouldn't otherwise agree to. In addition to a description of the work to be done, a written contract should include starting and completion dates, costs with a breakdown of labor and material charges, the contractor's name, address, phone number and professional business license number. Be sure the contract includes clauses on permits, lien protection and warranties. It is the contractor's responsibility to apply for a permit in their name, so if the work does not pass inspection you can't be held financially responsible for any corrections that must be made.
In California, a contractor may not take more than $1000 or 10% of the job (whichever is less) for a deposit or a downpayment on the work to be done. Additional payments should be made after each phase of the job is completed. The final payment should not be made until the work is completed and inspected to your satisfaction. Always pay for home improvement work with a check or money order, never with cash. You may also want to inquire about inserting an arbitration clause into your contract in case a dispute arises between you and your contractor.
The Federal Trade Commission advises consumers toBE AWARE OF RIP-OFFS. A less than reputable contractor might:-Solicit door-to-door-Offers you discounts for finding other customers-Only accepts cash payments-Pressures you for an immediate decision-Asks you to pay for the entire job up front-Suggests that you borrow money from a lender the contractor knows.-Asks you to get the required building permits.
If you have a problem with your home remodeling project, the FTC recommends to first try to resolve it with the contractor. If you can't resolve the problem you can file a complain with your state and local consumer protection offices. The BBB or the CA Contractor's State Licensing Board. You can also visit the National Association of Home Builders Remodelors Council on their website for additional information at www.nahb.comUpdated 09/28/05. nr