To many homeowners, this is the time of year for thinking about home improvement projects.
The arrival of the annual Wichita Home Show on Feb. 6-9 signals the kickoff of the homeowners’ season for remodeling and repairing. An important part of the process, maybe the most important part, is selecting a contractor.
Horror stories are out there about contractors who did shoddy work, overcharged or just did not perform as promised. There are many great contractors out there as well. How can you be sure you make the right choice?
Follow these tips to keep your project on track by selecting the right home improvement contractor:
Word-of-mouth is a valuable way to find out about a good contractor.
Check with someone you know who has had work done and was happy with the work. It’s a good idea to get quotes from at least three contractors for comparison. Be sure each company was given identical specifications about what you want done.
Ask each contractor for references and then go to those individuals and ask whether the job was done well. There is no point in asking for references if you do not follow through and check them out.
Disreputable contractors may give you names of fictional “satisfied customers” in hopes you won’t bother to call them.
Ask how long they have been in business and get a business address, then check it out either in a phone book or by driving by the location.
Inquire about whether they are licensed, what permits are required for the specific job and what type of insurance they have. Insurance should include personal liability, worker’s compensation and property damage coverage.
Get documentation proving they have the insurance. Reputable contractors will gladly provide those documents.
Check out the contractor with the BBB by visiting www.kansasplains.bbb.org.
After choosing a contractor
Once you have made your selection, there are more considerations to keep in mind before your project is begun, including:
• Be sure the contract specifies a starting and completion date, total cost with a breakdown of material and labor charges, the payment schedule, guarantees, warranties and debris-removal method.
• Never sign a partial or blank contract.
• Never pay more than a third of the agreed-on price up front. Many contractors will not require any payment until they have started the work. When payments are made use a check or credit card, not cash, and get written receipts.
New roofing law
If your job includes any roofing work you should be aware of a recent law in Kansas.
In 2013 the Legislature passed the Kansas Roofing Registration Act requiring all roofing contractors in our state to have a contractor registration certificate. Ask for and examine proof of any roofing contractor’s certification with the state of Kansas. You can visit the Kansas Attorney General website at ag.ks.gov to verify the registration of any roofing contractor.
Your home may be the single biggest investment you have. Take extra precaution whenever you hire a contractor to do remodeling or repair work on it.