Tips from industry leaders and regulators
After 22 years in the home remodeling business, Master Remodelers has seen and heard about many home remodeling disasters. You probably know someone who had a bad experience. We’ve even rescued a few projects from shoddy or incomplete work by other Pittsburgh remodeling contractors.
So, to save you some time and maybe anguish, we offer you some tips on how to get the best results from a home remodeling contractor.
FIRST, AVOID THE TRAIN WRECK
Mike Holmes from HGTVs Holmes On Homes says bluntly: “It amazes me, after doing my TV show for all of these years, that I’m still seeing homeowners making the same knucklehead mistakes over and over. The big one—the one that starts a chain of events ending in disappointment and frustration—is the notion that they want it done ‘fast’ and ‘cheap.’ And lets face it, in the renovation business fast and cheap adds up to just one thing—crap.” (read more)
Well, that’s a little frank for Master Remodelers, but we’ve seen too many variations of what he’s saying about bad outcomes. In both 2008 and 2009, coming into the Christmas holiday season, Master Remodelers was called in by homeowners to rescue and complete jobs started by other home remodeling contractors. In both cases the homeowners were disappointed by the previous work and behind schedule… and had holiday parties already scheduled. We were able to complete their jobs in time for the holiday celebrations. Dream come true; Happy New Year!
Master Remodelers offers you what we call “Your Readiness Quiz.” Try it. It takes less than 3 minutes to answer 10 multiple choice questions. Maybe it will help you plan and launch your home improvement project. When you get your score—you can send it to us too—give us a call and we’ll have a conversation about your project.
DON’T TAKE OUR WORD FOR IT
Take a look at what some other authorities say about making the right general contractor choice. We’ve got a list of readings in our “Resources For You” section here on the website… from the National Association of Home Builders to This Old House. (click to read recommendations)
PICK A GOOD HOUSE GUEST
Your choice of a home improvement contractor means you’ll have house guests for months. Be sure to pick one that has true respect for your home and your privacy. And you don’t want a messy guest either. Pick one that guarantees to cleanup thoroughly everyday. And a good home improvement contractor won’t wear out his welcome by staying 6 months when he promised 3. And there can be extras, like one of our customers was amazed that we helped her carry in groceries. Check out some of our customer testimonials.
CHECK CREDENTIALS & REFERENCES
Did you know that certain certifications and registrations are required for contractors? For example, as part of a 2009 consumer protection law Pennsylvania requires contractors to be registered with the Attorney General for jobs over $5,000. And the EPA requires contractors certifications for pre-1978 homes because of lead paint hazards. Additional certifications and training are also assurances to you that a contractor will provide professional service and results. Also, check contractor references and get more than one bid.
At Master Remodelers we believe in remodeling for sustainability, sometimes called green remodeling or home performance. Perhaps you’d want to bring that value-added and utility bill-saving option into your home remodeling project, like we did in our latest award winner.
SYNERGY OF “DESIGN & BUILD”
Finally, we think there’s a powerful advantage in having the Designer and Builder in the same office, as does Master Remodelers. The communication is much smoother and the surprises fewer when the contractor, the designer and the homeowner work together from the very beginning of the process.
And don’t pay big bucks for drawings that do not include a host of specifications that are necessary to get accurate bids from home remodeling contractors. Over simplified drawings means you’ll get “apples and oranges” bids that make your choice of contractors more risky and confusing.
7/22/10 UPDATE: PA Attorney General takes legal action against contractors. Buyer Beware!