What Your Contractor Won’t Tell You; Five Steps to Avoiding Remodeling Disaster

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Adding a room to your home, or remodeling an existing kitchen or bath, can be an exciting and rewarding experience. But selecting a contractor to do the work can be confusing at best.

“Your best bet is a personal recommendation,” says Barbara Kavovich, who owns and manages one of the largest female-owned construction and renovation companies in New York City. “A satisfied customer can be your greatest resource in determining a contractor’s skill and business ethics.”

Barring that, she adds, there are questions to ask that will help you figure out whose hands you want to put your project in. Listed below are seven things Kavovich claims a contractor will never tell you-things you want to check out and check off your list before you sign on the dotted line:

1. “I’ll probably go over budget.” -Make sure your contract spells out start and end times, estimated costs of equipment and materials, and details on cleanup, supervision, rubbish removal and insurance coverage.

2. “I botched a few jobs.” -Call the Better Business Bureau or the Department of Consumer Affairs to find out if complaints have been lodged against a contractor. Call his references, but better yet, visit a few sites where the contractor has worked.

3. “You won’t be able to find me.” -Your contractor may not be onsite every day, but you should know who is in charge when he is elsewhere, and how you may reach him if you need to.

4. “Don’t pay me if you don’t like it.” -Contractors deserve to get paid for their work, but your contract should include language that allows you withhold money for work that is incomplete, incorrect or poorly done.

5. “I don’t have adequate insurance.” -Make sure your contractor has in-force Workmen’s Compensation and general liability insurance. Otherwise, you may be liable for the cost of certain mishaps, or if one of his workers is injured while working on your property.