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13 Tips for Finding a Good Builder or Remodeler

Published: July 27, 2012
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Use this checklist to help you select a builder or remodeler for your cabin project:

Contact your local home builders’ association for the names of member builders and remodelers.
    A website search tool for builders and remodelers is www.nahb.org/findanhba. Another tool for finding remodelers is www.nari.org/search/address. You can also ask family, friends or coworkers for recommendations.

Make sure the builder/remodeler has a permanent business location and a good reputation with local banks and suppliers.

Find out how long the builder/remodeler has been in business. It usually takes 3–5 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 out the company’s rating and if there have been any complaints filed with your local Better Business Bureau: www.bbb.org.

If licensing is required in your state, ask if the contractor is licensed and call to verify compliance with the law. (Not all states offer or require licensing. Check with your local or state government agencies.)

Make sure the builder/remodeler has sufficient workers' compensation and general liability insurance. If not, you may be liable for any construction-related accidents on your premises. (Always verify this information by calling the agency. A copy of an insurance certificate does not let you know if the policy is still current. Even if the certificate has an expiration date, you cannot tell if the insurance has been canceled by either party.)

Ask the builder/remodeler to provide you with names of previous customers. If they won’t, beware. If they do, ask the customers if they would hire the builder/remodeler again.

Ask if you can see the builder/remodeler's work, both completed and in progress. Check for quality of workmanship and materials.

Do you feel you can easily communicate with the builder/remodeler, especially the project supervisor who will be assigned to your project? Remember you will be in close contact with them throughout the construction process and afterward.

Find out who will be working on your project. Are they employees or subcontractors?

Make sure the builder/remodeler provides you with a complete and clearly written contract. The contract will benefit both of you. If you are having a new cabin built, get and review a copy of the home warranty and homeowner manual as well.

When hiring a remodeler, ask if his/her employees have been certified in remodeling or had any special training or education, such as earning a Certified Remodeler (CR), Certified Remodeler Specialist (CRS) or Certified Lead Carpenter (CLC) or Certified Kitchen & Bath Remodeler (CKBR) designation.

Be cautious of unusually low-priced bids. If the builder/remodeler is unable to pay for the materials and labor as the project proceeds, this may indicate a potential problem. Keep in mind that less expensive does not necessarily mean better!

SOURCE:

These tips were compiled from:

• National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), www.nahb.org/forconsumers

• The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), www.nari.org

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