I'm planning a kitchen remodeling project over the winter months. I've heard horror stories about homeowners hiring the wrong remodeling contractor--so many that's it's a source of tension. Is there any advice you can give us about evaluating a potential remodeling contractor before we give him our business?
Ronald S. ~ Ogden, Utah
A list of referrals from any potential contractor would be the first step. Any good contractor should be proud of past projects, and be eager for you to check with previous customers. If possible, inspect some of the contractor's previous work. Keep in mind that sometimes there can be problem customers, so if you get positive feedback from 9 past customers, and negative from 1, there may have been special circumstances with that single situation.
You also want to ensure that the contractor has a good relationship with the local building department. If the contractor has been in business for awhile, the building department should have inspected some of the firm's previous work. The building department can tell you if there have been any unusual issues.
You should also make sure that the contractor has appropriate business and contracting licenses, and has workers compensation and liability insurance in place. The insurance issues are very important during these tough economic times. Some contractors have found it difficult to keep their premiums up to date, and you don't want to be liable for any damage or injuries resulting from work being done on your home.