Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid when hiring a Home Improvement Company.

Once you understand the credentials required to become a Home Improvement Company you'll understand why you must take all necessary precautions . Whom you hire will be the most important decision you make ! The outcome will vary from you being extremely satisfied to monetary ruins. Home Improvement Companies are 1# in total complaints per Department of Consumer Protection, State of Connecticut.

It bears repeating, Once you understand the credentials required to become a Home Improvement Company you'll will be Shocked, Upset, disappointed, Sick! First a little background .

Home Improvement Companies are technically Registered and not Licensed by the State of Connecticut. Home Improvement companies consist of carpenters, remodeling & renovation companies, roofers, siding companies.

Electricians, Plumbers, Heating & Cooling Companies are Licensed by the State of Connecticut.

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The journey to become a self employed Electrician, Plumber, Heating or Cooling Contractor (Licensed)

Stage 1 Start as a apprentice, need a total of 8000 supervised / documented hours of on job training.
Stage 2 Once obtained, take a 6 hour written exam conducted by State of Connecticut.
Stage 3 If you pass exam, you earned a E-2 license, still an employee, however no longer needs supervision.
Stage 4 Need additional 4000 documented hours of advance training.
Stage 5 Once obtained, take a 6 hour written exam conducted by State of Connecticut.
Stage 6 If you pass, you earned a E-1 license, entitled to be self employed with 1 provision
Stage 7 Enroll in a yearly 7 hour class conducted by State of Connecticut.

The journey to become a self employed Home Improvement Contractor. (Registered)

Stage 1 Pay a fee. No minimum hours required, No test required, No skills required, No knowledge required .

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Mistake 1 - Don't tell Home Improvement Contractor " What your budget is " until........

  1. Respond by stating " My first criteria is feeling comfortable and confident with a company. I would like you to listen to my needs, evaluate present situation, inform me of your ideas / options and provide a quote ".
  2. A contractor ask this question to establish if you're wasting their time, however my suggested response counter acts there objective and the message you want to send is "Prove yourself to me and not me proving I could afford this".
  3. Your objective is to unveil there traits, such as knowledge, through ness, patience, attitude, ideas, character, etc .The knowledge of exposing a companies deficiencies supercedes them matching your budget.

Mistake 2 - Don't consider hiring a Home Improvement Contractor without the following.....

  1. Request, obtain & verify references.
  2. Request, obtain & verify being licensed / registered.
  3. Request, obtain & verify being insured.
  4. Contact Better Business Bureau at bbb.org (BBB has a company profile including a performance rating between A+ to F, regardless of being a member or not.)

Mistake 3 - Don't assume all Home Improvement Contractors are quoting " Apples to Apples ".

  1. Request & obtain a detailed written proposal (no verbal quotes). A requirement especially if blueprints and specifications were not supplied to contractors during the " Gathering of Quote Stage ". You discussed project with a variety of contractors, however each can interpret project differently (Quality of material, doing job minimum to code, omitting items, etc). A written proposal enables you to compare materials, labor, services and notice omissions.

  2. Don't assume the discrepancies in quotes is strictly one company being more reasonable in labor then others. On the contrary, it's more likely any of the following scenarios ......
    1. Omissions by intent (intentionally wants the quote to look attractive, has other alternatives)
    2. Omissions by error (forgot to include, incorrect calculations (length of time, cost of material)
    3. Omissions by neglect (unaware of additional work required by code, oblivious during estimating stage, inexperienced)
    4. Using materials of less quality .
    5. Assumptions. You assumed because one contractor mentioned they were going to include or provide a certain service that all contractors were doing the same (examples) (1) obtaining permit (2) rental of portable toilet (3) patch lawn & re-seed (4) haul debris, etc,
    6. Assumptions . You assumed because a contractor verbally told you they were going to include or provide a service (even thou it was not mentioned in contract) . If it's not mentioned in contract, it doesn't exist.

Mistake 4 - Don't complicate the " Bid Process " by having loose ends.

  1. Most likely your project includes certain merchandise that requires your personal taste and approval. It could be a toilet, vanity, faucets, tub, shower stall, kitchen cabinets, counter tops, carpet, tile, etc. These items should be la bled "Allowance Items". During the initial " Bid Process " you most likely have not finalized these selections, hence you should place a arbitrarily value on each item and have all contractors bid based on these price guidelines. Regardless if arbitrarily value is above or below your eventual selection.

  2. If your uncertain of an approximate value of any or all items, have the 1st contractor select value and relay this amount to the rest of contractors.

  3. Your goal is to establish a leveler playing field. With this method you won't be mislead by a lower attractive quote when in reality they were providing the cheapest possibly item of each category. With this method you won't dismiss a higher quote when in reality they were offering you quality merchandise.

  4. Prior to signing contract, research and visit stores to compare arbitrarily amount to your actual selected amount . This enables you to know exact cost of project.

Mistake 5 - Don't assume a properly Registered and Insured Home Improvement Contractor is necessarily qualified.

  1. This has nothing to do with being experienced, knowledgeable, honest & performing quality workmanship.
  2. Verification is only to dismiss if not properly Registered or Insured.

Mistake 6 - Don't hire a Home Improvement Contractor without a contract and make sure it includes........

  1. Your name, address, contact number along with contractors, including contractors registration number.
  2. A detailed description of the project, including plans,specifications of material & labor rendered.
  3. List of items / services not included (Thus no assuming)
  4. Starting date / Completion date
  5. 3 business day cancellation notice (100 % refund of deposit)
  6. Copy of contractors insurance policy and being named as a "Interested Party". This entitles you to be notified if present coverage was modified / cancelled during duration of project.
  7. Total Cost & Payment Schedule. * No more then 10 % down upon signing contract. * Payment due Upon Completion of a phase and not Starting of a phase. * Disbursement of money should correspond with labor / material rendered.
    * Final payment due upon completion of (1) Punch list (2) Your satisfaction (3) If permit issued, final approval of Building Officials.

Mistake 7 - Don't sign a contract " On the Spot ". Request contract prior to appointment date. This gives you ...

  1. Time to fully read and understand entire contents
  2. Make notes on items you don't understand.
  3. Notice items that were omitted.
  4. Time to negotiate on items you don't agree (starting date, completion date, payment schedule, etc).
  5. Time to receive Certificate of Insurance policy prior to signing contract.

Mistake 8 - Don't supply merchandise, have Home Improvement Contractor be responsible. Had you supplied...

  1. Merchandise could of been damaged by contractor and informs you it came damaged. If contractor supplied item then they will be responsible for any damage until job is completed.
  2. If merchandise was found to be defective after it was installed, you will be fully responsible for additional fee to re-install and possibly purchasing new item. If contractor supplies item then they must warranty item, including labor to re-install.
  3. If you ordered wrong size, wrong specifications, not enough, to much, forgot to order, ordered to late causing a delay, item actually came in damaged, etc....... you could be responsible for delays and extra cost / fees that may occur.

Mistake 9 - Don't accept References that are easier to perform than the project your proposing.

  1. References such as (1) Installing replacement windows (2) Building a deck (3) Shingling a roof (4) Handy-man type work, etc ....... should not be considered when your (1) Building a addition (2) Remodeling a Kitchen (3) Remodeling a bathroom (4) Any major remodeling project with a variety of trades involved. etc.......
  2. This holds true with a company that performed previous work for you.

Mistake 10 - Being seduced by the price alone.

  1. Some of the most expensive work you will ever pay is for a cheap job. Low prices are usually a trade off for cutting corners in materials, workmanship and warranty.
  2. Don't be seduced with the price that you "Let your guard down" and don't follow through on requesting, obtaining and verifying credentials.

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Home Improvement Contractors are already prepared to answer your obvious questions, you must be 1 step ahead in order to separate " Fiction from Facts". Knowledge is Power, you must take Control & Establish Guidelines during your selection process.

Please visit FAQ for a greater in depth interpretation & strategy.

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