Checklist for finding and hiring a home builder or remodeler:
- Make sure the builder or home remodeler has a permanent business location.
- Find out how long they have been in the building 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 out the company’s rating and if there have been any complaints filed with your local Better Business Bureau (BBB.org).
- Make sure the builder/remodeler has sufficient workers compensation and general liability insurance (required for HBA of Greater Springfield membership). If not, you may be liable for any construction-related accidents on your premises.
- Are they an HBA Member? (HBAHomePros.com)
- 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/remodelers work, both completed and in progress. Check for quality of workmanship and materials.
- Do you feel you can easily communicate with the builder/remodeler? Remember you will be in close contact with them throughout the construction process and afterward as you live in your new home.
- Make sure the builder/remodeler provides you with a complete and clearly written contract. The contract will benefit you as well as the contractor. If you are having a new home built, get and review a copy of the home warranty and homeowner manual as well. The contract should include these elements: a timetable for the project, price and payment schedule, detailed specifications for all products and materials, insurance information, permit information, procedures for handling change orders, lien releases, provisions for conflict resolution, notice of your right under the Federal Trade Commission’s Cooling Off Rule (your right to cancel the contract within three days if it was signed someplace other than the remodeler’s place of business), and details on the important issues (such as access to your home, care of the home, cleanup and trash removal).
- 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!
- Ask family, friends or coworkers for recommendations and visit the HBA Home Show, HBA Parade of Homes and HBA Home Remodeling Show to personally meet with builders and remodelers.
Tips – After hiring a builder or remodeler:
- Be sure that your contractor applies for a building permit and the permit number is displayed properly at the site (information should be in your contract).
- During the building or remodeling process, stay in constant communication regarding budget. Request change orders or budget reports when the scope of the project has change or if there have been a number of changes that could impact the final price. It’s important you have all changes in writing (change order process should be in your contract).
NOTE: There is a fine line between good communication and micromanaging.
- Ask for a written lien waiver from the home remodeler upon completion of the work (should be in the contract). If the remodeler hires subcontractors for portions of the work, then it is their responsibility to see the subcontractors compensated. In order to ensure this has been done and to protect yourself, ask for a written lien waiver when the work is finished. This document will verify everyone has been paid.
- Establish a project plan, covering all phases and dependencies in the work. Plan your big picture goals with the builder/remodeler and discuss your needs. Hire a contractor who will plan with you, listen to concerns and answer questions.