Every consumer undertaking home remodeling deserves a high quality project that is completed on time and within budget. A competent contractor not only will make the process easy for you, they will improve your quality of living, and at the same time increase the value of your home.
Here are 10 valuable tips to help you make an informed decision when you chose a contractor to remodel your home.
1. Start by checking all the companies you are considering online at www.cslb.ca.gov and www.bbb.org. Google each company followed by “reviews” to see what other people are saying. What seniors should know before they remodel.
2. Only consider contractors who are licensed, bonded and insured. In California, contractors are not required to maintain general liability insurance. Choosing a company who cannot provide you with proof of general liability and worker’s compensation insurance puts you, the homeowner in serious risk if a worker gets injured or causes damages to your property.
3. Everything should be in writing starting with a “scope of work”, which is the narrative part of the contract. The plans, home improvement contract including start/completion time and scope of work document makeup the entire agreement. If the scope of work is written clearly and concisely, with no gray areas, there should be no misunderstandings.
4. California license law requires that homes built or remodeled prior to December 31, 1977 must be tested for asbestos and prior to 1982 for lead. If any either of these hazardous materials are discovered, remediation must be completed by an independent firm who is properly trained and licensed. You may want to insist that testing be completed before for you finalize the home improvement contract. For more information click here
5. Part of the contracting process should include you approving the construction plans. Make sure you fully understand what is on the plan and what is excluded before signing off.
6. If there are contract allowances, go out shopping to confirm the amounts are sufficient to purchase the caliber of fixtures and finishes you desire this will avoid costly over runs that lead to change orders.
7. By California State Law, the following documentation must be provided to you by the contractor when you enter into a property improvement: Home Improvement Contract, Notice to Owner form, Check Out Your Contractor form, California License Law Notice, Information About Commercial Liability form, Notice of Cancellation (2 copies)
8. Most well established contractors would not ask for a down payment. By California law, a contractor is only allowed a 10% down payment or $1,000, whichever is less.
9. Check the payment schedule provided by your contractor to make sure there are milestones that require inspection tied to when you pay where possible. There should be a 5 – 10 percent retention held until final inspection is approved and all punch list items are completed.
10. You have the right to ask for proof that subcontractors and vendors are paid. Demand lien releases at each stage before making the disbursement.