Remodeling Your Home

Photo Credit: Carson Speer Builders
Remodeling your home is an exciting, but also daunting task. While the prospect of a brand-new gourmet kitchen or spa-like master bath has you browsing Pinterest, finding and hiring a trustworthy contractor is no small feat. We invite you to read more on key questions to ask and ways to spot potential hazards when selecting a contractor for your next remodeling project.

As a homeowner or potential homeowner, it is important to know who you are hiring to work on your home. Scam artists tend to appear after a natural disaster has hit an area; however, it is good to be always cautious. The following tips will help you determine the difference between a true professional and one who is trying to scam you.

Paperwork and Payment

Do not sign anything before you have officially hired the contractor. Further, do not hire anyone until you have talked with your insurance company, unless you are hiring someone to handle an emergency repair that will protect your home from further damage. Signing anything, even an estimate or authorization, may be considered a binding contract. Once you have agreed to hire a contractor, be leery if they claim a formal contract is not necessary. Contracts protect you and should clearly outline the job, timeline, cost, and process for handling potential problems if they arise. Approved Professional Builders always use a written contract when performing work for home owners.

When it comes to cost, scam artists often require cash-only payments or that you pay in full before they start the job. While a deposit towards materials is common, it should be paid after signing a contract and should not be the full payment. Further, a cash-only demand should be a red flag that you do not want to do business with that company.

Although it can be tempting to accept the lowest offer, never trust someone that vastly underbids all other contractors, as they are likely to leave you with substandard workmanship that will cost you more in the future in maintenance and repairs. Special pricing, being told a price is only good if you sign a contract today, and being chosen as a demonstration project at a discounted price are all potential scams. A professional’s estimate should not change drastically in a matter of weeks unless the project itself changes.

References, Licenses, and Permits

The contractor should be able to provide reachable, prior customer references and a verifiable business address. Not having these items should be a cause for concern.

Always ask for the company’s license and insurance certificate to ensure they are minimally qualified. Although not required by all states, South Carolina requires all professional contractors to have, and be able to provide, proof of license. Finally, a contractor should never ask you to obtain permits yourself.  If they do, look elsewhere because he or she may be unlicensed and ineligible to obtain a permit. Professional contractors obtain their own permits.

When seeking trustworthy, professional contractors, your best option is to use an Approved Professional Builder or Remodeler, which includes all of the Home Builders Association of Greenville’s Builder or Remodeler members.

To find a list of these qualified professionals, click here. You can verify if a builder is licensed in South Carolina by visiting the S.C. Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (LLR). CLICK HERE.