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Topic: Design build remodel

May 22, 2017
Oct 23, 2017

When you are looking for a professional contractor to successfully bring your home remodeling project to life, you need to make sure you do your homework.

Below are 6 things to consider before hiring a contractor:

1.What is their track record? How long have they been working in the area?

Check out the home remodeling companies you are considering on the Better Business Bureau’s website as well as other sites like Angie’s List. Read testimonials on review websites and look over company websites for portfolios and comments from past clients.

2.What are their credentials? Are they licensed? Bonded? Insured?


States set their own requirements about licenses, but most states have an agency that homeowners can contact to confirm a contractor’s license and credentials. Ask for proof of bonding to make sure your contractor is current on his/her credentials. Insurance puts the liability on the contractor if something goes wrong during the project. Not all insurance is created equal, make sure to ask for a copy of their insurance certificate to verify they have General Liability, Workers’ Compensation, and Auto coverages.

3.Do they have references? Will they provide you with a past client list?

Use a past client list to talk with the people your client has worked with before. Ask them if the contractor delivered what was promised on time and at the agreed upon budget. Also ask about how easy or difficult it was to communicate with the contractor.

4.How will they communicate with you? How do you reach them after hours?

Make sure you agree on how you will communicate with your contractor and if you need weekly in person meetings to get your questions answered.

5.Will they be getting all the required building permits for the project?

While the homeowner pays the cost of the building permits, the contractor should be the one responsible for obtaining the permits.

6.How will the payment schedule be arranged?

For replacement work never pay the entire amount before the project starts. Payment schedules vary from company to company, but there is usually a deposit and payment installments based on certain stages of completion.

Just as you are asking questions about your contractor, your contractor will be asking questions about you and your home remodeling project. It is important that you are aware of the questions your contractor should NOT be asking you.

Sometimes a contractor is trying to find out information about a project, but he/she may phrase questions in a way that makes the homeowner feel uncomfortable.

Listed below are some questions your contractor should NOT ask you:

1.Are you widowed?

2.Do you have money in your savings account?

3.How much money do you make?

4.Will you be alone when I arrive?

5.What is your credit score?

6.May I see your other bids before I present mine?

In Angie Hicks’s article, “3 Questions Your Contractor Shouldn’t Ask,” from Angie’s List she explains how home improvement contractors can be more tactful when they request information from clients.

Check out the article here: https://www.angieslist.com/articles/3-questions-your-contractor-shouldnt-ask.htm

May 22, 2017
Jul 19, 2017

Beyond the license and insurance questions we all advise our clients to ask, we also believe you should ask about their history.  What exactly makes them an experts....did they go to school are they a generational builder?  What types of projects have they built - and where.  What business qualifications does your contractor have?...... because you may be a great installer but when it comes time for warranty work, will your contractor still be there?  If you are working with a project manager and multiple installers, will you have access to speak with the owner and license holder as well? 

May 22, 2017
Jul 19, 2017

1. What is the full name and address of the company?

 2. Does the company carry insurance?

A contractor should carry comprehensive liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance* to protect you in the event of an accident. 

There are a variety of reasons why full insurance may not be carried by a contractor, such as:

  • Not a full-time contractor
  • Operates as a partnership or self-employed without employees
  • New in the business
  • Can’t afford insurance premiums
  • Doesn’t stand behind work

It is up to you to determine if it is worth the risk to hire a contractor who does not carry insurance.

3. Is the company a licensed or credentialed contractor? 

4. How long has the company been in business?

5. Will the company provide referrals or references from previous jobs?

Consider checking sources:

  • Local Better Business Bureau (BBB)
  • Social media 
  • Website
  • Google
May 22, 2017
Jul 11, 2017

Nobody mentioned the most important one: Will you provide a written Contract?

What is your contracting (not business) icense number? Having and active State license answers many other questions, like whether they meet insurance and employment criteria. Everyone who does work in which your particualr State requires a license must be licensed especially for plumbing, HVAC, electrical (including low-voltage), and structural work.

BBB accediting is meaningless, as it only applies if a contractor pays their fee.

Can you provide references for similar work? 

As mentioned above, complaints against a license with the Secretary of State should be noted, but the number and nature should also be noted. There are people out there you just can't please, and who try to scam free work from well-meaning contractors by complaining about them. I have also found that complaints on referal sites like Angie's List and Home Advisor are best ignored altogether as anyone with an axe to grind can post anything about you, whether tru or not. 

May 22, 2017
Jun 7, 2017

In addition to the informaton that you already received, here is a Q&A I wrote back in 1998 that might help.

Question:I have some minor repairs that need to be done.Can I use an unlicensed handyman for them?

Answer: Not if the total aggregate price for all labor, material and all other items is less than $750.00.This maximum is for the total project even if it is only a part of a larger operation, whether undertaken by the same or a different Contractor.

Q:I’ve been told that if I need a building permit I must use a properly licensed Contractor.Is this true?

A:Yes, unless the work will be performed by employees of the owner or owner’s management agent as long as either; (a) there are4 units or less, or if 4 units or more (b)that the units are not offered for rent or sale within one year.

Q:Do my employees need to be licensed in order to do maintenance work at my complex?

A:No, but please note that the provisions of both questions #1 & #2 apply to employees, owners and owner’s agents.

Q:How do I know if a Contractor is licensed?

A: The handyman must use the word “unlicensed” or “not licensed” in any form of advertisement.

A licensed Contractor is required to place his license number(s) on all documents used by the licensee in the conduct of business regulated by the registrar.It is recommended to call the Registrar of Contractors to ensure that the license is current and up to date.

Q:How do I find out if a Contractor has any complaints against their license.

A:You can call the Registrar of Contractors office to obtain whether or not the licenses is current, who it is issued to, the license classification, how many unconfirmed, valid resolved, valid unresolved and invalid complaints have been filed within the last 2 years.This information can be received through their new automated system using a touch-tone phone.

Q: Are there different licenses for commercial and residential?

A:There are many different license classifications for both residential and commercial construction.It is not enough that a Contractor is licensed for either residential or commercial but that he has the correct classification as well.It is best to check with the Registrar’s office to ensure that the license covers the type of work.

Q:Should I not use a Contractor because he has a complaint against his license?

A:A complaint against a license even if it was valid should only be one criterion in determining whether or not to use a Contractor.Some companies do quite a high number of jobs and are bound to have a correspondingly higher number of complaints than a firm who does not.The percentage of complaints to completed jobs may show similar track records of companies with differing number of complaints.

For additional licensing information you may call Arizona Registrar of Contractors (602) 542-1525

May 22, 2017

Wilson Valvez of Master Roof PRO answered:

May 23, 2017

I believe that the most important thing besides the cost is a Warranty and a detailed list of materials and work that needs to be done in writting. 

May 22, 2017
May 23, 2017

In regards to roofing, Owens Corning has a great checklist and you can find it at the link below! Here are just a few items to check though: 

-Accredidation and good standing with the BBB

-Additional Warranty and Workmanship Coverage

-Verify how long they have been in business

-Addequate Insurance (at least $1,000,000 in general liability insurance) 

-Code Compliance

-References 

-Quality Materials 

owenscorning.com/storm

http://www.jeffroof.com/blog/what-to-look-for-in-a-contractor

Alex Graham asked:

May 14, 2014
Dec 7, 2016

Congrats on the new home! I think you have started off on a really good foundation with open dialog with your new neighbors. A few suggestions. 

Make sure you communicate with your neighbors about you project and how long it will last. Let them know that if there is any concern that they can talk to you about it. Give them an easy way to contact you. 

Have your contractors be respectful. There will obviously be early mornings or late nights for work to be done, but be respectful of your neighbors. Maybe offer some earplugs for them to block out the unwanted noises or ask the guys to start later on a Saturday or Sunday so your neighbors can sleep in. 

Clean up.... Make sure that anyone who is building and installing cleans up after themselves. Cigarette butts, trash, cursing, loud music and loose nails are only some of the concerns of an active work sight. And those concerns grow for neighbors with children.

My biggest suggestion, at the completion of the job have an open house. Invite your neighbors to come see your new house and the project that was goign on next door. It will offer you a time to get to know one another better. Use it as a way to say thanks for dealing with the last few months.Good luck!! 

Feb 18, 2014
Nov 11, 2016
Hi Charles. Allen Construction has a two part answer to your question: 1) In terms of energy efficiency, you will get the best protection from solar heat gain by putting a shade on the outside of the glass. If it has to be on the inside, there are specific treatments called solar shades or sun shades that are specifically designed to block heat and glare. They also can have varying degrees of visibility as well. 2) As far as shades the will offer you both privacy and visibility, top down / bottom up shades provide a good level of control so you can constantly adjust between proper shading and still letting ambient light through. There are pleated (e.g., honeycomb shades by Hunter Douglas) that are also energy efficient. Roman shades with lining can also be drawn up to expose the view. HOpe that helps!
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Alex Graham asked:

Jan 13, 2015
Jan 14, 2015

Good answer by Abe. We prefer to use fixed contracts with our clients. We have clauses in our contracts for unforeseen itesm such as concealed structural damage or inadequacies. I fully agree a professional remodeler, that knows what they are doing, should be offering a fixed contract.

Alex Graham asked:

Jan 13, 2015

With a lump sum contract, all the risk is placed on your contractor. If you want assurance, a lump sump contract with a professional remodeler will give you a guaranteed price... but be sure you have a clear understanding of change orders and hidden condition clauses in the contract, as well as finding out if any allowances are realistic. Cost plus, you take on all the risk. Everything is billable, and the contractor has no risk for this. In return, you might be charged a lower markup. So if you are willing to take on some risk or if you have a highly evolving project, a cost plus contract might help you. You must have a clear discussion of maximum price and be prepared for price escalation, though. Any other question on the subject?

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