A home remodel can add value and comfort to your home. Once you’ve committed to modernizing your home, the first step is to find a professional remodeler. Online listings can seem endless. How do you know which expert will be able to provide exceptional service and quality craftsmanship? Some projects take considerable time and money so it is important to select a contractor you can trust. To help you navigate your options, consider asking the following pointed questions to find the remodeler that fits your project needs.
1. How long have you been in business? It usually takes three to five years to establish a financially sound business. You want to make sure they will be around after the construction is complete to service any warranties. Check to see if the remodeler has a permanent business location. If they only have a p.o. box, be wary. Professionals have a physical office, mailing address, phone, and email. They should respond to your queries promptly.
2. What type of insurance do you have? Make sure the builder/remodeler has enough workers’ compensation and general liability insurance. All professional contractors should be insured and able to show a certificate proving such insurance. If not, you may be liable for any construction-related accidents on your premises. In the State of Wisconsin, contractor licenses are required and issued through the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services. In order to pull permits to do work on one- or two- family homes, a builder/remodeler needs both the dwelling contractor certification for the business, and at least one person from the company needs a dwelling contractor certification. Other trades require state licensing as well. See WI requirements. See the WI DSPS self-service Public look up.
3. Do you have references I can speak with? Professional contractors should have current references they can provide from current and past clients — and you should be able to reach those references, not just an answering machine. If they won’t provide references, beware. If they do, ask the customers if they would hire the builder/remodeler again. Also, an experienced remodeler will be able to show you their work, both completed and in progress.
4. How will we discuss the project progress? Do you feel you can easily communicate with the remodeler? Remember you will be in close contact with them throughout the construction process and afterward as you live in your newly remodeled home. You both should agree on how often to connect to discuss updates throughout the project. It is best to determine what communication channel (email, text, phone or virtual meeting) fits your needs.
5. Are you able to provide a written contract? A qualified remodeler will provide a written estimate before beginning the work and provide a detailed contract. The contract should clearly spell out what work will and will not be performed and provide a payment schedule. If you don’t have a contract, you are not protected when something goes wrong. Don’t hire anyone who tells you a contract “won’t be necessary.”
See LBA's directory for professional remodelers in the Walworth County Wisconsin area who are dedicated to the highest professional and ethical standards in the home building industry. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has a directory of professional remodelers across the entire US. For more information about finding, evaluating and working with a remodeler, contact an LBA or NAHB member.