Making minor or major home improvements is often to improve the quality of life and to increase the value of a home. In most cases, minor projects can be a do-it-yourself job. Then, there are big time projects that require a professional. When plumbing, electrical wiring, and structural improvements are in the mix, it’s best to call in someone with the knowledge and experience instead of making a huge and costly mistake.
A reliable contractor can be your best friend and really help to increase the value of your home. However, you have to be careful about which individual or service you choose. Otherwise, you could well find yourself suffering buyer’s remorse, and worse still, get entangled in a legal battle.
Good Contractors Make a Worthwhile Investment
From the National Association of Realtors, to home improvement chains, to contractor’s associations, all agree that remodeling projects do come with a healthy return on investment. Even minor things like replacing an old wooden front door with a new steel door has a big return of 96.6 percent. Add on a deck and fetch a return of 87.4 percent or replace the garage door to get 83.7 percent back. A minor kitchen remodel yields a return of 82.7 percent.
Crooks go where the money is. So with Americans spending more than $500 billion a year on remodeling and home improvement projects, it’s no surprise that home improvement has become a favorite target for fraud artists. Some of these shady characters use amazingly well-polished contractor scams that are tricky to spot until it’s too late. The vast majority of contractors are honest, hardworking professionals. Protecting yourself against the few bad apples requires checking references, having a solid contract, and being alert to the warning signs. —House Logic
However, changes such as a home office remodel, sunroom and bathroom addition, and a master suite addition all bring the smallest returns. A good contractor will be honest about which improvements will have the biggest impact. Not only on a home’s value, but also for function and comfort. In addition, an experienced contractor will be able to keep a project on schedule while being mindful of the budget, which is to say, kind to your wallet.
Heed these 7 Contractor Warning Signs
By contrast, there are home contractors who put a blemish on the profession. These individuals usually broadcast telltale signs you should look out for in order to avoid costly and time consuming problems. Here are seven warning signs to be on watch for:
- Not providing license and insurance information. If a contractor does not have immediate access to documentation of their state licensing and business insurance coverage and insists you take their word, that’s a good indication that individual does not have either.
- Unusual payment arrangements. Small and medium-sized projects generally require an upfront payment, which is used to purchase materials. Large jobs, like a kitchen overhaul, requires a down payment with regular installments. If a contractor wants cash, wants it upfront, and is giving you a lowball offer, beware.
- High-pressure sales tactics. High pressure sales tactics are generally the result of a panicked individual who is in need of money right away. If a contractor offers a big discount or promises to get the job done in record time, those are bad signs. Follow your instincts, stay away, and keep on looking for another company.
- Mismatched skill sets. Should you need a bathroom updated, or a kitchen redone, choose a company that specializes in those particular projects. Don’t make the mistake of hiring a contractor that mostly does kitchen remodels for a bathroom makeover.
- Sketchy contracts. It’s this simple: if a contractor is not willing to spell out in detail what they will do and how and the price, you’re probably going to regret hiring that individual. Experienced and reliable contractors use nicely constructed contracts with plenty of details.
- Communication barriers. Infrequent and poor communication is a bad signal to receive. Unfortunately, this might begin after you’ve hired a contractor to do a job. Should this become a problem, open up lines of communication. Keep in-the-know about the job and what to next expect.
- Being coy about previous work. A contractor that isn’t forthcoming with previous work and references is probably trying to hide something. And, that’s not something you want to leave to chance. If you aren’t given references, do take the contractor at his word.