The Law & Your Home

Remodeling and the Law

How do I find a reputable contractor?

After thinking through what you want and what you can afford, ask for recommendations from people who have had similar work done and talk to building inspectors, bankers, and trade association representatives—people who should know first-hand the work and reputation of contractors in your community.

For a large job, interview and solicit bids from two or three contractors from your list, but make sure they are bidding on exactly the same job to allow comparisons. The lowest bid is not necessarily the best, because a contractor with a reputation for excellent workmanship and for standing behind the work might be worth more. Even if the job is small enough to warrant only one bid, take time to check out your contractor's reputation and credentials.

Make sure a contractor's references had similar work done. For a kitchen remodeling, for example, ask for former clients who have had kitchens done by the contractor.

Chances are any references provided by the contractor will be happy clients, so try to go a step or so beyond "He's a great guy" and "No problems at all." Ask exactly what the contractor did, and how this person found out about him.

  • Was the client comfortable with the way things were left at the end of a day as well as at the end of the project?
  • What does the client wish he had done differently to make the job go even more smoothly?
  • What did the client's spouse (or roommate, neighbors, or children) think about the work and the construction process?
  • What is the next project this person wants to hire the contractor to do?

>>Which federal laws are applicable to remodeling projects?
>>What protection do I have once I sign a contract?
>>What kind of state and local laws apply to contractors?
>>What's the best way to guard against swindlers?
>>How do I find a reputable contractor?
>>Should I have a written contract with the contractor?
>>What should the contract include?
>>What should I watch out for when the job begins?
>>What can I do if the contractor violates the contract?


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