Considering a kitchen remodel? Want to build an addition onto your home? Want to know how to avoid getting ripped-off by your home contractor?
FindLaw recently broke down this exact subject in its Tips for Better Remodeling or Landscaping Projects. Any homeowners looking to hire a contractor would be wise to read these tips.
Here are five steps to help you avoid getting ripped-off:
(1) Know what the potential scams are. Unfortunately, not all contractors operate fully within the law, and they often give a bad name to those who do. Be aware of the potential contractor rip-offs, such as discount offers, up-front payment requests, those with no local directory listings, cash payment requirements, and door-to-door solicitations. Also, any contractor that requires you to make a same-day decision should be shown the nearest exit.
(2) Research different types of contractors. You wouldn't buy a car without researching the different car models, nor should you hire a contractor before knowing what types of home improvement professionals exist. You may need a general contractor to handle a larger project, or simply a specialty contractor (such as a kitchen design specialist) for those smaller projects.
(3) Ask friends, family, and neighbors for referrals. Word-of-mouth referrals from trusted friends, family members, and neighbors can lead you to a bevy of qualified contractors, designers, and other professionals in your area. Don't be afraid to reach out and let them know exactly what you are looking for.
(4) Know what questions to ask. After you've chosen two or three contractors to interview, it is important to ask the appropriate questions, such as whether they are licensed and bonded with the state, how many projects they have worked on, and what types of insurance they carry. Never ever trust a contractor who says it's ok to proceed without permits.
(5) Check references. Finally, once you've decided on a contractor, it is imperative that you ask for at least three or four references of previous clients. Talking with someone with first-hand knowledge can give you insight into a contractor's work habits, cost, time issues, and other factors. Don't forget to ask to see the contractors work (again, you wouldn't buy a car sight unseen, would you)?
These tips can be found on FindLaw's Contractors and Home Improvement section within Learn About the Law's Real Estate Center. Following these steps will most certainly help you avoid getting ripped-off by your contractor the next time you embark on a home improvement project.