How to Choose a Remodeling Contractor for Your Home

More than likely, you have heard one horror story after another, and then some, of unscrupulous contractors who don’t finish a job after they have gotten your money, or if they finish the job, is it subpar with a lot of poor craftsmanship? You file a complaint with a consumer protection agency, but there aren’t any stiff penalties at all for these contractors who will no doubt do it again to some other unsuspecting client. It is all a vicious cycle that doesn’t seem to ever end. The sad part is a lot of people who have had horrible experiences with contractors don’t file any complaints, so it is nearly impossible to find out who they are.

The reality is you will need to take responsibility for protecting yourself. By that, I mean to educate and arm yourself with knowledge that you will need a great deal of. That means doing research, study, and contemplation on your own. Otherwise, you will become prey to those unethical contractors who could easily rob you blind and leave your home in shambles.

Here, you will receive the necessary information covering three key areas to get you started in choosing a suitable, highly ethical, and top-notch professional contractor. There are many excellent remodeling contractors in existence. You just have to do your homework first.

What You Need to Know Firsthand

In 1935, the National Association of The Remodeling Industry began under a different organization for its time. Then, in the mid-1960s, it changed its name to reflect what it is today. By 1983, it took the final name of NARI, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

This is your first step to take in considering a remodeling contractor. NARI’s website has dedicated a link for homeowners that lists selecting a remodeler who is a certified professional, finding contractors, remodeling tips, and interviewing remodelers. NARI is the only association that is dedicated to the remodeling industry.

They focus on professional conduct, continuing education, training, and, most importantly, fair and ethical treatment within their industry.

Tips on Hiring a Contractor

There is a great deal of information on tips for which I will try to cover the most important ones. However, thanks to the internet, there is no excuse anymore for not doing your own homework or due diligence on choosing a remodeling contractor that’s right for your home.

Tip #1

If they aren’t listed with the Better Business Bureau, they must be reputable. That is not true at all. As I mentioned earlier, many people who’ve had bad experiences oftentimes do not make a complaint to the BBB because it has to be completely in writing. According to an issue in Money Magazine, it stated BBB does not do an adequate job of reporting offending companies or contractors in this case.

Tip #2

The contractor that offers you the lowest price is the one you should go with. Absolutely not; if they do the services for a lower price, it may not be for what you want to be performed. It could be a way to entice you, then come up with excuses on how they did not see this or that, more like a bait and switch tactic. Also, it could be a red flag this contractor is not financially stable. This may sound extremely tempting to go for a lower price, especially in this economy, but don’t fall for it.

Tip #3

Be sure to avoid high-pressure salespeople with their “this price is only available today if you sign up with us right now” impending doom line. It’s an old trick to make homeowners make a quick decision that only benefits them, not you.

Tip #4

The most important one of all is the down payment. If a contractor asks for a huge amount of money upfront, more than likely, they are not in good financial shape. Yes, some contractors will ask for a reasonable amount of money upfront. However, the high-quality ones have good working relationships with suppliers and can purchase materials on an open account with 30 days to pay, depending on how long they have been in business.

Important Questions You Must Ask

Once again, there are many questions to ask a prospective remodeling contractor; however, these particular questions are a good first step to this vital process before hiring a remodeling contractor.

Start off with questions regarding their experience. Ask for three references for three projects that will be similar to yours.

Did you work off a fixed price contract or a cost-plus/time & material contract?
How did the final price compare to the original estimate?
Did any problems arise, and how was it handled?

For scheduling, you need to ask how long it took from start to finish and whether it was completed by the scheduled date. The next set of questions regarding their qualifications is extremely important. First off, start by asking how long they have been in business.

Do they belong to any related trade organizations or to NARI?
How will they handle the money during the project?

Ask how you can check their creditworthiness. Last but never least, be sure to ask what their contract will look like.

Is it all-inclusive?
How are disputes resolved?

Purchasing a home was, of course, the biggest investment you ever made. Second to that is investing in a remodeling project, plus hiring a true professional remodeling contractor to get the job done smoothly, efficiently, and economically. Now that you have a good amount of information to help get you started, you can ward off those contractors who have given the remodeling industry a bad reputation and finally make it right.


An associate editor, working in tandem with global teams while residing in Minnesota. She has a strong interest in economic growth and holds board positions in various non-profit organizations.

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