Buyer Beware Tips to Avoid a Nightmare Remodeling Project
Home renovation projects can be stressful as they require the foresight to budget accurately. Additionally, you’re re-organize entire rooms; perhaps making arrangements to stay at a family member’s home if, for example, you’re renovating your only bathroom. With all these things to take into account, the last thing you need while redoing your home is to have accidentally hired Melvin or, even worse, a scam artist contractor.
According to the New York City Department of City Affairs, reports filed against home renovation contractors rank in the top five categories of complaints received.
If you want to avoid a home improvement nightmare, here are the top three tips that will help ensure that you hire a reliable, talented, and trustworthy contractor.
Hit the Books (or the Internet)
The logical first step is to ask friends and family if they have any recommendations – you can trust a loved one to be fully honest with you. The next best thing is to use the Internet to your advantage to check that any potential contractors are fully licensed. Don’t be fooled! Licensure status can vary by state or by county.
For your knowledge, New Jersey contractors receive license from the state, while New York licenses are issued by county. This means, for example, that if you live in Long Island, you’ll want to check the status of a contractor in both Nassau County and Suffolk County.
You might be surprised at the amount of people who can have lost their licenses or otherwise drummed up a bad reputation in one county but simply move a few counties over, make some excuses, and obtain a new license, often by changing the name of the company (making it harder to do research on their past track record).
When in Doubt, Call for Backup
In this case, the backup is an architect in addition to a home improvement contractor. An architect is able to provide advice about the design of the home, including the gory details that come with redoing electrical wiring, plumbing, or other tasks that are trickier than replacing a set of shelves, re-flooring, or repainting.
Managing a big project such as a complete bathroom redesign can be difficult for a homeowner to handle, especially if they are unaware of local codes and building regulations. The architect will stay in communication with the contractor and workers to ensure that everything goes smoothly to avoid delays and problems down the line that result from other details slipping through the cracks.
Another tip is to find a contractor who specializes in your project. For example, if your looking to remodel your bathroom consider a specialty company like NJ Bath who specializes in bathroom remodels.
Don’t sign anything without studying it extensively beforehand. A concise, detailed contract should lay out the schedule of each work, breaking the overall project into sub-projects with deadlines wherever possible, and a corresponding plan for the payment. For instance, it’s important to ensure the use of an escrow account, which is a secure middle ground that holds funds until an agreed-upon transaction is completed.
Another popular tip is to state that you will not pay for anything until the contractor has is finished. If you have any doubts, don’t be afraid to hire a lawyer – again, it’s obviously more expensive than the alternative, but it’s a worthy investment when you risk losing thousands.
Keeping these tips in the back of your mind should hopefully help make sure that the project goes smoothly. Too many people find themselves duped by fast-talking contractors and up losing substantial amounts of money and time, but they don’t even realize what’s happening until it’s far too late, because unfortunately these untrustworthy contractors have likely been in this game for years and know how to deliberate delays without giving off any red flags. That’s why it’s crucial to cover all of your bases and take no chances.