A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

BBB Trends: Review details before approving a contract for home remodeling project

By Sandra Guile
Better Business Bureau

Home remodeling shows highlight the latest and greatest must-have features to update any living space, and they’re a good way to gather information and ideas for a new project.

Homeowners attending remodeling expos should plan to listen to presenters and pick up contact information from potential contractors – not go in with the intent to hire someone on the spot. After returning from the show, sift through the information, select the top three potential candidates for the project, and research their Business Profile on bbb.org. Once a decision is made and it’s time sign a contract, there are still a few more steps to take before taking pen to paper.

First, the selected contractor should prove they’re bonded, insured, and licensed appropriately. During the bidding process, the business should present copies of all necessary certifications at the homeowner’s request. Close attention should be given to the type of insurance carried by the contractor, and proper coverage should be outlined for anyone involved with the project – including subcontractors. While checking out the company, review the references presented from previous projects.

Next, the contract must list the exact items needed for the project, all the way down to the specific quantity, size, price, and brand of the products the contractor plans to use. A proposed start and end date should be clearly listed, along with a payment schedule that includes the down payment – typically no more than 10 to 15 percent of the overall cost of the project. Homeowners should keep in mind, however, that start and end dates may change depending on unexpected delays during the project.

Finally, homeowners are encouraged to ask if they are responsible for disposing of old appliances, cleaning up after demolition, and recycling any usable materials, or if these tasks fall under the services the contractor covers. These details should be included in the contract along with any specifics as to how they will keep your home clean as demolition is taking place. Any stipulations the contractor states – including requests to board animals elsewhere during construction – must also be outlined in the contract.

Although the process of setting up and moving forward with a remodeling project is long and involved, there should be an opportunity to opt out of the contract at any point if things aren’t working out as planned. Read through the contract carefully for the cancellation clause and what rights you have to stop the work.

Anyone attending should enjoy the remodeling show and get some great ideas for their upcoming project, but they should make sure to check out any chosen contractors at bbb.org before getting started.

Sandra Guile is the Community Outreach Specialist for BBB in Cincinnati. She promotes BBB’s message of marketplace ethics through public speaking engagements, presentations, media relations, press releases, web content, and other written materials. Your BBB is located at 1 East 4th Street Suite 600 Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 – to reach the office, call 513-421-3015.

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