“Read in Between the Lines"
Truth or Fiction, Don't be misled on.
Don't Be Fooled by CT Home Improvement & Remodeling Contractors
Unfortunately there’s no present law/ restrictions/ guidelines that testimonials must be proven to be authentic / genuine to be posted on any Ct. Home improvement contractors web site. Thus testimonials could and are fabricated to mislead the consumer. Even an authentic testimonial could be vague thus become misleading and a misrepresentation of companies’ qualifications and abilities.
It’s crucial you’re educated on how to “Read in between the lines “ and confirm/distinguish between “Truth & Friction “. This knowledge will enable you to eliminate the inexperienced, misleading and inferior Ct. Home remodeling companies and guide you toward a qualified CT. remodeling company.
An overwhelming majority of testimonials (99 %) posted on all companies web sites don’t include the 4 essential criteria’s most helpful to you. Testimonials should exhibit these 4 essential criteria’s, should be …. (1) Recent (2) Descriptive (3) Compelling (4) Personalized.
Listed below is explanation and reason why…
Recent. Giving you an accurate pulse and assurance of this Ct. Home remodeling company’s present activity and performance. Non-recent or no testimonials should raise red flags.
Descriptive. Giving you an assurance that this Ct. remodeling contractor specializes in the type of project you’re presently seeking.
Compelling. A satisfied homeowner will be extremely explicit with all the reasons why this Ct. Home improvement company deserves both recognition and their praise. They’ll most likely not write a one sentence vague testimonial.
Personalized. Under ideal circumstances, homeowner supplying full name with testimonial, if not, it’s understandable. However I believe company should include Building permit number, date permit issued & City/ Town work was performed to prove some sort of a personalization.
Let me give you some examples of vague, misleading testimonials illustrated below, (between quotation marks).
Testimonial Example One (below 1-4) with an observation that there’s “No Descriptive” type of work performed and it is “Non Compelling “.
- “They did a great job and completed on time “.
- “ The workmanship was excellent “
- “It was a pleasure working with you”
- “I would highly recommend them “.
Your Concern ……. This could be a small or simple job ( installing a door knob , cleaning gutters , build a deck ) , and how is this relevant if you’re planning an extensive home addition or remodeling project such as converting a cape style home into a colonial or remodeling a kitchen or bathroom.
Testimonial Example Two (below1-3) with an observation that even thou location of work performed within house was specified the type of work was “Non Descriptive “.
- “ I totally love the work they did in my kitchen “
- “ I’m extremely happy with the work they performed in my bathroom “
- “ They did a great job in my basement “
Your Concern……. This could be misleading and a possible manipulation of words to give you a false presumption this Ct. Home improvement remodeler is qualified and experienced regarding this type of remodeling project. And in reality all they did was “ Change knobs & handles on kitchen cabinets “ or “ install a shower rod in bathroom tub “ or “Replace a few damaged acoustical ceiling tiles in basement “. Absolutely no reason to call and request a quote on remodeling your kitchen, bathroom nor basement.
Testimonial Example three (below 1-3) with an observation that even thou description of type of project was mentioned there’s “no date” when performed.
- “ They built me a great room addition “
- “ I’m enjoying my remodeled bathroom “
- “ I’m so pleased with my new kitchen that your foreman Jerry remodeled “
Your Concern ……. Is it genuine? If so, it could have been done 20 years ago. How is this relevant today? A Ct. Home improvement companies’ performance / skills could worsen or fade or the actually project was performed by the prior generation of this company and that complimented employee (Jerry) no longer works for this company.
Testimonial Example Four (below 1-2) with an observation that even thou description of the type of work along with year performed was mentioned however “it’s not personalized”.
- “ They did a great job constructing my new home addition “ John , Fairfield , Ct 2011
- “ Extremely pleased , they are the best Ct. room addition contractor “ K & S 2010
Your concern….. Is it genuine? If homeowner didn’t leave full name the contractor should intervene by stating Building permit number, date issued, City/ Town project was performed to assure testimonial is genuine and has some sort of personalization associated with testominal.
All testimonials should include all 4 essential criteria’s mentioned. Arnone Building & Remodeling testimonials include all 4 , plus “Before “ & “ After “ photos , see home page of web site , right column , with heading “ Testimonials “.
Please further read, under same heading (Read in between the lines) about “References “to confirm/distinguish between “Truth & Friction “.
A previous customers experience / knowledge / feedback of a Ct. remodeling companies over-all performance is crucial information to obtain. This article provides vital information to assure you’re not being manipulated in a false representation of the actually truth. This knowledge will eliminate hiring an inferior / unqualified Ct. Home improvement company.
To establish the true identity of any Ct. General Contractors performance “You “must control and establish the guidelines. The old premise was the Ct. remodeling company was in control when requested ,by supplying 3 random references of their choice, however this method is flawed. Any company with an extremely low satisfaction record (7 dissatisfied customers out of 10) can still supply 3 satisfied references. Your objective is to know what they’re not divulging.
A crucial mistake by homeowners is not calling references because they assume references will be favorable hence no sense calling. A lot of times Ct. remodeling companies assume their previous clients were pleased however this could be far from the truth. Many incidents (other than workmanship) homeowners will “bite the bullet “ and say nothing because their intimidated to complain most likely because the job is still in process. However once project is completed, this homeowner may “open up to you “. Inform you of delays in the project, poor attitudes of company owner and employees; certain work had to be redone, very messy, etc…. All incidents that owner of company either is oblivious or insensitive too.
These Guidelines are as follows….
- Specifically ask all prospective Ct. remodeling companies for at least 3 recent references that are similar to your proposed remodeling project. Don’t consider references of decks, roofing or installing replacement windows if your proposing to construct a ground level or second story addition or remodel your bathroom or kitchen. Your objective is to eliminate prospective Ct. remodeling contractors that don’t actually perform your desired work or not qualified with enough experience to consider hiring. Essentially because there are variable trades / occupations that are covered under the same“Home Improvement License “. Some examples are roofing, siding, landscaping, painting, paving driveways, installing swimming pools, waterproofing foundations, insulation and erecting fences. Literally you can view a home improvement company’s ad or web site when you’re considering ( for example ) building an addition , remodeling a kitchen or bathroom and read ( all true ) that they state they been in business for 20 years and have collectively over 30 years of experience , they have a home improvement license and are insured. However, in reality, a majority of their work they performed could have been painting, roofing, siding or commercial work with no or little residential work experience. Besides asking for their 3 most recent projects that correspond with your proposed project you also need to evaluate companies “profile “, read guideline # 2 , directly below.
- Specifically ask all prospective CT. residential remodeling companies for the last 10 projects they performed including name, contact number, date and description of work. You’re objective is to establish this companies “ profile “ such as the type of projects their more accustomed / familiar / experienced in doing and also the volume of work they perform. If (for example) an overwhelming amount of these 10 provided projects are roofing, siding or small handyman work then this would indicate ( if your project differs ) they aren’t experienced / qualified enough to perform the type of project you’re considering such as a extensive remodeling project or addition. If the 10 provided projects occurred during a substantial amount of time this would indicate there’re either purposely omitting unsatisfied clients or not busy for many reasons, all discouraging.
Cautionary measures / advice during your evaluation / research…
- Don’t be influenced by either photos / slide shows on web site or pictures of work presented by prospective company in exchange for references. Their premise is to convince you their familiar and capable of performing your aforementioned project. Photo’s don’t confirm that this company actually performed this work nor confirm homeowner was pleased with workmanship and overall performance. The photos you viewed on their web site could be obtained / purchased from a library of photos supplied by the marketing web site designer they hired that created their web site.
- If your skeptical about the authenticity of any reference , wonder if you’re actually talking to contractors friend , relative or family member in disguise, there is a foolproof procedure ( if this type of project warrants obtaining a Building Permit ) . You should ask contractor for a copy of the Building permit affiliated with this reference. A Building permit indicates (1) Company name that performed work (2) Date issued (3) Name & address of homeowner/ jobsite (4) Date permit was issued (5) Type and value of project. (6) Companies Home Improvement number. All information you can verify.
You the homeowner must understand that just because a company processes a license and is insured (both actually purchased and not earned) doesn’t qualify them to perform all types of home improvement projects with quality workmanship. Not all companies are experienced, knowledgeable or capable of performing large extensive projects. Few will be honest and decline bidding on these types of projects, however a majority will hide behind a façade of misrepresentations because their main concern is what is in their best interest , not yours.
Don’t feel you are offending any prospective company by your request / methods of research , because my company Arnone Building & Remodeling would appreciate if I was asked because I’ll know I’ll have a better chance of being awarded the project . If you do receive any negativity from any prospective company then you accomplished your goal, which is eliminating the undesirable / unqualified companies. Remember your investing thousands, maybe tens of thousands dollars of your hard earn money.
Confirm by receiving “Certificate of Insurance “directly from their Insurance Company. If owner of Ct. home improvement company hands , e-mails , postal mails or fax you their policy then you need to confirm by calling insurance company directly and request they provide you a copy to confirm. They will ask you to provide your name & address so it will be added to policy and appear under “Certificate Holder” (Insurance Company will either e-mail / fax/ or postal mail you directly). Also request to be on the “Notification List “, this entities you to be notified if policy was altered ,cancelled or renewed during the deration of your project.
Do not accept a “Certificate of insurance “that was provided to you by the Ct. Home remodeling company even if your name and address appear in the “Certificate Holders “box. Anyone can fraudulently type in your name & address on their computer screen at desired location and place policy in storage paper bin of printer and press “copy” to print your name & address exactly in the desired location of policy.
It is also possible that insurance company will inform you that this company is no longer insured with them even thou you were handed a certificate of insurance policy illustrating current coverage however invalid because it was earlier cancelled due to non-payment.
All companies that provide a service on homeowner’s property are required to have “General Liability Insurance” and “Workers Compensation Insurance “if this company has employees (opposed to just owner of company performing the work). Upon receiving policy directly from insurance company, carefully read policy to assure both coverage is included. It is possible that this insurance company only supplies 1 of the 2 coverage’s, if this is the case then there are 2 possibilities, either this remodeling company doesn’t have this coverage or actually does , but with a different insurance company. If the “ladder” then you have to do this procedure a 2nd time to receive proof on coverage that was omitted on the first policy.
If you hire a company that doesn’t have “ General Liability Insurance “ you’ll be burdened with the expense of fixing / repairing any damage to your processions / property should they get damaged during renovation period or later on after faulty work finally appears.
You should request / receive these insurance policies prior to committing to any company and absolutely before signing a contract. It’s possible the company you felt was most reasonable in cost was only due to not having any insurance.
In you were informed after you initially asked for proof of insurance that none existed, however was told by this Ct, remodeling company that should you hire them they will obtain proper insurance prior to commencing work, then walk away, this is a red flag.
If you receive confirmation during your research that this company had “General Liability Insurance “however doesn’t have“ Workers Compensation Insurance “. Then you have to ask yourself, is this project a 1 person job?, is so, will it be solely done by owner of this remodeling company?. If you feel it’s possible you then must verify and include this language terms in contract. If you feel this project isn’t a 1 person job, then eliminate this company.
It’s not out of the ordinary to also request proof of insurance from the general contractors sub-contractors (if any) , such as plumber , electrician , heating contractors , etc.
Arnone Building & Remodeling does display a copy of their Insurance coverage on their web site that easily can be printed for homeowner to do their research even prior to inviting my company to their home. Located on home page, titled “Credentials “.
Public perception is a Ct. remodeling company is experienced, knowledgeable and skilled to obtain a Ct. home improvement license. However the reality is no training, no test, no experience and no knowledge is required. A Ct. Home improvement license is purchased, not earned.
This unfortunately being true you’ll still need to verify. Don’t settle on just a “yes “from potential contractors or by them showing you their business card stating they are licensed or it’s illustrated on their truck their licensed. Start verification process by requesting them to supply you a copy of their license if they’re not in your presence. If they are in your presence then request to view their license and make a copy or write down pertinent information. It’s a State requirement that they be in possession of their current license when conducting business .State of Ct. provides a wallet-size license that must be presented upon request. Pertinent information of license states the following…. registration number , effective and expiration dates , name of company , type of license, ( in this case you are looking for H.I.C ( which refers to a Home Improvement Contractor) and address of license holder. It doesn’t actually state the name of contractor. You then can go on line to verify license /registration.
While in the presence of contractor and viewing their H.I.C license, also request to view their driver’s license so you can verify addresses match, since its possible name of company (example being “All Phases of Carpenter” ) may not have any similarity to their first or last name). If it doesn’t match, this is a red flag. Even thou license isn’t transferable; it could be shared among devious contractors.
Arnone Building & Remodeling does display a copy of their H.I.C license on their web site that easily can be printed for homeowner to do their research even prior to inviting my company to their home. Located on home page, titled Credentials.
Public perception is a Ct. remodeling company is experienced, knowledgeable and skilled to obtain a Ct. home improvement license. However the reality is no training, no test, no experience and no knowledge is required. A Ct. Home improvement license is purchased, not earned.
This unfortunately being true you’ll need to do your homework to assure any potential contractor is qualified to perform your project.
It’s possible any information you were told verbally by this Ct. remodeling contractor or seen displayed on their truck, web site, stationary or business card could be a total misrepresentation / fabrication of their skills and time of experience.
Listed below are a few examples advocating 1 thing however meaning another.
Highlighted in Blue is what contractor is advocating.
Highlighted in Red is possible reality “Read in between the lines “
- A company stating they have 25 years of experience..
* In reality it’s 5 employees each with 5 years of experience.
* In reality just a fabricated lie, no rhyme or reason.
- A general contractor company truly stating they indeed have 25 years of experience, however ……..
* In reality a majority of that experience was as an employee with very little or no experience toward the business aspect.
* In reality calculating the 25 year span without deducting when laid off, unemployed, working in a different professional or worst, incarcerated.
* In reality, most experience is commercial work and being a sub-contractor to a general contractor thus no residential work nor dealing directly with homeowners.
- Any contractor advocating amount of experience. I’ll illustrate why lying about amount of home improvement experience in the Home Improvement Industry is rapid. It’s because it’s un-documented ( for the most part ).
*In reality there’re no guidelines / restrictions or documented records to confirm amount of home improvements experience.
Contrary to Electrical, Plumbing & Heating Contractors. In order for any person to obtain any of these 3 mentioned Licenses they have to obtain 8000 documented / supervised hours of training, once done, take a written test conducted by the State of Ct, if they pass test they’ll receive an E-2 license for electrician, P-2 license for plumber, etc. There’re not entitled to be self-employed at this stage, but no longer need supervision (can be a foreman). Then they must receive another 4000 hours documented hours of work , once done , take a written test conducted by the State of Ct, if they pass they’ll receive a E-1 license ( for example if you’re a electrician ) and can become self-employed if they wish.
*In reality a Home Improvement License is bought with no experience required.
Similar to a homeowner attempting to gather truthful information with the objective of avoiding unqualified / over rated Ct. remodeling companies I also to research with the same objective when in need of additional employees. Actually I handle my interview more of an interrogation because I’m aware of the following………..
- They will exaggerate time of experience, they’ll include time when not working, laid off, or in a different professional or so-called being self-employed.
- They will omit references of companies they worked for if they left under bad terms.
- They will exaggerate their skills in stating ( when asked ) the type of work they performed.
What I do, for all reasons above, I’ll tell each applicant I’m starting them with zero experience and they have to prove to me their knowledge. I’ll inform them that I don’t necessary go by the amount of years of experience but by the quality of years of experience. I’ll inform them that a person with actually 6 years of experience can be more knowledgeable and productive then a person with actually 20 years of experience.
If I ask them if they know how to tape drywall, layout a stair stringer or layout a roof rafter, etc , I’ll not just accept a “yes” for an answer. I’ll actually supply them drywall , compound , mesh and a taping knife and tell them to show me , I’ll supply them a board ,framing square and give them pitch of roof , thickness of ridge , overhang and span to lay out a rafter or pertinent measurements to lay out a stair stringer.
If they actually acknowledged they performed other certain work I will ask them to explain their method. I do this because method corresponds with production. My objection is to make sure I place them (if hired) in a position and wage that their qualified / capable of handling. And during the process teach them the most productive methods.
I understand, you the homeowner may be a little naïve, however with this guidance on this topic along with other topics , hopefully will place you in a more favorable position.
Arnone Building & Remodeling is documented to be in business since 1973 as per my tax records. Plus prior to this, 4 years of Technical School and once graduated, hired as a carpenter ( on the books )for additional 2 ½ years before becoming self-employed.
I grouped these 2 types of documents (mentioned above) together because basically, proposals are un-signed contracts and contracts are arrived from proposals (with a few exceptions).
- I’m not going to inform you that proposals / contracts should be “ in writing “ opposed to being “ verbally “ . I’m sure you heard this on television shows such as “People’s Court” and “Judge Judy”.
- I’m not going to tell you that proposals from companies will range from being very vague to being extremely explicit in description of rendered labor & goods because I’m sure you had proposals / services presented to you in the past.
- I’m not going to tell you (at this point) what should be legally specified in a contract because you can research this information on line.
What I want to tell you is what you may never be able to find by researching the internet, nor conversations with fellow associates or reading published books about guidance & assistance because what I have to share will not be found.
I’ll start prior to you calling up contractors to receive quotes of your proposed home improvement project. Even thou you may be a little naïve about actual construction terms, names of various types of materials you will eventually learn this during this process and prior to signing a contract. Your objective at this point is to “Control the bidding process “.
Since Extremely vague proposals may be done purposely, with the objective to give homeowner a false illusion that their receiving a great price when in reality the price is extremely low because there’re a lot of omissions and contractor supplying inferior merchandize / material. You now knowing this, you should counter act by doing following…..
- Provide a list of all merchandize related to your project that you’ll personally need to select based on your preference & personal taste to these contractors. Some possible examples are listed below highlighted in red along with a generous value highlighted in Blue. The sub-total value of these individual items is highlighted in Green. To offer you a comparison cost to the possible contractor’s selection, highlighted in brown to illustrate my point.
- Floor tile (bathroom) $ 5.00 sq. ft. (Need 48 sq. ft.) $ 240.00 $2.00 sq. ft. $96.00
- Wall tile (tub area). $ 5.00 sq. ft. (Need 66 sq. ft.) $ 330.00 $ 2.00 sq. ft. $ 132.00
- Floor tile (kitchen) $ 5.00 sq. ft. (Need 250 sq. ft.) $ 1,250.00 $ 2.00 sq. ft. $ 500.00
- Laminate flooring (2 bedrooms) $ 2.50 sq. ft. (Need 375 sq. ft.) $ 937.50 $ 0.99 sq. ft. $ 371.25
- Toilet / seat $ 225.00 ( need 1 ) $ 225.00 $ 99.00
- Carpet (living rm) $ 35.00 sq. yd. with install (need 35 yds.) $ 1,225.00 $ 25.00 sq. yd. $ 875.00
- Bathroom vanity ( with top-bowl-faucet) $ 500.00 (need 1 ) $ 500.00 $ 300.00
- Exterior sliding door $ 900.00 ( need 1 ) $950.00 $ 350.00
- Medicine cabinet $ 150.00 ( need 1 ) $ 150.00 $ 75.00
- Exterior light fixtures $ 45.00 each ( need 2) $ 90.00 $25.00 each $ 50.00
- Interior light fixtures $ 45.00 each ( need 4 ) $ 180.00 $ 18.00 each $ 72.00
Total of all your selected merchandize highlighted in Green is $ 5,752.50
Total of what contractor may have supplied if you didn’t control bidding process is highlighted in brown. $ 2,920.25
A difference of $ 2,832.25 prior to tax, with tax a $ 3,000.00 + difference. This one example illustrates that if you received a quote $ 3,000.00 less expensive then another, in reality, it was only due to receiving inferior merchandize.
It’s more likely that during the beginning stage of receiving quotes you haven’t had time to go to supply stores to select these aforementioned merchandize items, if so, then arbitrary select an amount for each item, and if your uncertain in accuracy then let the 1st contractor select amount, the objective is for each contractor to include the same value in merchandize so you can compare “Apples with Apples “, regardless if your eventual selection is more or less than designated guess. If less, you should receive the credit difference, if more, you just pay the difference.
To continue with the same premise, there may be other materials related to your project that appear similar in appearance and function that drastically range in cost. These examples are………
(1) “Sheathing “which comes in 4’ x 8’ sheets that are installed on roofs, exterior walls & floor joist. They come either in a “wood plywood” sheet or a “compressed flake type “sheet, which is half the cost of wood plywood. For example if you were constructing a 20’ x 20’, 1 story addition with a gable style roof you’ll need a total of 50 4’ x 8’ sheets (floor, exterior walls & roof). At a difference of $ 12.50 per sheet it comes to $ 625.00 plus tax.
(2) “Roof shingles “, they may look similar in color, however one could have a 25 year warranty and other have a life time warranty. This translates to a cheaper product.
(3)”Vinyl siding “they may look similar however a difference in quality. This translates to a cheaper product.
- Gutters, difference in thickness or gauge. This translates to a cheaper product.
- “Underlayment “(top layer of sheeting in preparation of finish flooring) (1) flake type, least expensive (2), plywood , middle range (3) concrete board , best, especially for tile . This also translates to a cheaper product
If you the homeowner prefer the less expensive product , that’s fine , however this should be presented to you as such and not you be scammed by an immoral company looking out for their best interest and their motive of presenting a false facade of a reasonable quote and neither asking or looking out for your best needs / interest. To combat this, once again control the bidding process by requesting the type of sheathing, warranty of roof shingles, brand name of siding, gauge of gutters and type of underlayment being offered in there quote. Your putting these contractors “on notice “that you’re educated enough to understand the differences.
These suggestions of advice I’m offering is still only the beginning. I also provide three “Printable Checklist “located on my web site home page, right column, titled “View Checklist” to further educate you grading contractor’s performance during the gathering of information stage.
Once you receive proposals you should carefully read and look for omissions or ambiguous wording. Don’t assume all contractors are providing the same services, such as (obtaining permits, dumpster rental and portal toilet rental on large projects, interior painting, electrical fixtures, etc.)
To give you an example of “Ambiguous wording “, don’t accept the following wording (highlighted in red) in either a proposal or contract.
“All Electrical will be to code “ & “All Heating will be to code “& “All Building will be to code “
In reality, it’s not required by Electrical Code to supply an exhaust unit in a bathroom if the bathroom has a window, it’s also not required to have ceiling fixtures in bedrooms / living rooms, instead a switch can operate homeowner’s lamp that is plugged into a wall outlet. It’s not required to have a light over vanity if there’s already a ceiling light. Not required to install a door bell, telephone / television jacks or extend cable to newly created rooms nor an exterior spot light. Only required to supply 1 wall outlet in a garage when more than 1 would be expected / needed.
In reality, it’s not required by Heating Code to place a new addition on a separate zone, which may be preferable by homeowner.
In reality, it’s not required by Building Code to supply gutters, providing a folding set of stairs into an attic opposed to a ceiling trap door, accessible by a step ladder.
The remedy is to request all provided services be individual mentioned opposed to being included by those statements mentioned above in red. You the homeowner should also receive (if it’s part of the project) brand name, model number, efficiency rating on all equipment (examples are furnaces, boilers, heat pumps, central air condition units ) because they can drastically range in price.
Another word of advice during the “proposal stage “, if you have a “ Wish List “ of other potential work besides the main project your considering , you should request and receive quotes from them. It could be skylights, increasing size of deck or adding a 2ndset of deck stairs, upgrading from carpet to wood flooring, etc. Your objective is to “Lock them in “with a cost while you still have not decided whom you will hire. By doing this you will receive a more competitive quote. If you wait and initially ask while the project is in progress the cost most likely will be more expensive because this contractor knows they are not competing against anyone else. You must realize homeowner has the “leverage “prior to signing contract.
Another word of advice during the “proposal stage “, don’t state you will directly purchase some of the merchandize, for example toilet, vanity, faucet or tile. By doing so, you are now liable / responsible for warranty & condition. For example if you purchased a toilet or vanity that was delivered in a cardboard box not yet opened or inspected and during the moving of these boxes or installation of these items the contractor accidently damaged this item , well they can in turn tell you it came damaged and you would be responsibly in delay and replacement. If contractor supplied these items they would be totally liable. Or if you later had malfunction issues with toilet or faucet, you the homeowner will be responsible in the cost of replacing merchandize and the labor fee to remove and replace. If contractor purchased they will be responsible for replacement and removing / installing. Homeowners may be unaware when purchasing many boxes of tile that you would also check the “Lot Number “on each box to assure these “lot numbers “match. If not, these same tiles can be a couple shades off. If homeowner purchased they will be responsible for any delay to reorder or worse, pay to remove tiles that don’t match that may have already been installed.
Now let’s talk about the transition from Proposal to Contract.
Once you confirm licensing , proof of insurance , referrals and experience as outlined in previous articles under this same heading “ Reading in between the lines “ and you fully read & agree to language in proposal , then the remaining stage is the presentation and eventually signing of Contract.
You should request that the Contract be e-mailed / faxed or postal mailed to you opposed to contractor bringing to your home and expect you to sign “ On the Spot “.
By requesting contract beforehand, this will give you ……..
- Time to fully read and understand entire contents.
- Make notes on items you don’t understand.
- Notice items that were omitted from earlier discussions.
- Time to negotiate on items you don’t agree ( start & completion date , payment schedule , etc )
You must understand that since the contractor is the “ Author “ of the contract certain language / terms are going to benefit / protect their best interest of which you may of never priory discussed or agreed to . For example shown below, highlighted in red would be such terms / language, highlighted in Bold black is my “insight regarding this matter, highlighted in Green would be your counter offer.
- Starting date is within 4 weeks of signing contract and completion date will be 16 weeks from starting. Required to give a starting /completion date. If project exceeds completion date there will be a penalty of $ 100.00 a day until completed.
- Payments will be paid as follows…. 20% upon signing contract , X amount upon Starting of foundation ,X amount upon Starting of framing , X amount upon Starting of roofing ,X amount upon Starting of installing windows & siding , X amount upon Starting of mechanical work , etc. . This payment schedule favors contractor because the key word they mention is “Starting”. A contractor can start many phases and complete none thus unfairness to homeowner on monies paid compared to work rendered. Request to change to word “ Start” to the word “ Completion “ , this way you’re paying for what was done thus monies paid are equivalent to work rendered. Also, since contractor was “Author “most likely the payments are “Top heavy “with minimal amounts toward the end. Homeowner should request larger payment amounts toward the end, to be an incentive for contractor to complete project opposed to walking away or enough money remaining to pay another contractor should first contractor refuse to correct work homeowner not happy with.
- Final payment upon completion of project. A contractor can complete a project and never request / receive a final inspection approval from building department or receive a Certificate of Occupancy if also required. Homeowner should state, final payment upon completion of project along with receiving final approved Building Department documents.
- Additional cost will occur (three examples). (1) If during the stripping of old roof shingles we encounter rotten roof sheathing. (2) If during demolition stage we uncover any code violations or damaged materials that were not possible to see during field inspection. All items 1-2 are possible and unpredictable. However you should put language in contract that protects you so that you will not be taking advantage of. For example, item number 1,Request a pre-determined square foot cost on replacing roof sheathing that’s acceptable and agreed upon. Similar to requesting a quote from a “Wish List “item. This way you will receive a more reasonable price. Item number 2, it’s different to negotiate a pre-determined cost because the variables are endless. Hopefully this contractor is reputable & honest. However the one thing I could recommend to counteract their point / reasoning of charging because these code violations or damage was not exposed to see. I would recommend to state……. Any pre-existing item / equipment / conditions that were readily available for contractor to clearly view / evaluate will not deem an increase in cost if later needed to be installed. Some examples, if contractor request an additional cost of upgrading the electrical panel because later on during the rough electrical work the electrical contractor states there isn’t enough room for all the electrical work in the existing panel box, then this required work will be done at no additional charge to homeowner because this should have been noticed and would be an unexpected hardship to homeowner and was noticeable. Another example, when building an addition and the existing exterior water faucet has to be relocated and contractor wanting to charge extra for their oversight.
- Usually the contractor will specify in the contract the size / thickness of certain materials being installed. such as…….. We’re providing (1) 2’ x 6” ceiling joist, 16” on center. (2) 2” x 6” rafters, 16” on center. (3) R-19 insulation in exterior walls. (4) 8” thick foundation wall. (5) One battery operated smoke detector in each of the 2 bedrooms.During the applying of the Building Permit process this contractor was informed by the Building Inspector that 2” x 8” ceiling joist and rafters are required by code not 2” x 6”. Also a thicker insulation is required in the exterior wall and foundation by code needs to be 10” thick and both smoke detectors need to be “Hard Wired “opposed to battery operated. Contractor may approach you and state……. I have to charge you extra because I’m providing material larger / thicker in size as outlined in the contract. Homeowner should include this phrase in all contracts. Providing / installing correct size / thickness / specifications of any material is based on present Building Code requirements and not what is necessarily mentioned in contract. Proper Code requirement will supersede language in contract at no additional cost to homeowner. This will also include items that contractor omitted. It’s the contractor’s responsibility to be up to date on all code requirements. It’s possible this contractors quote was more attractive in cost because they “undersized “and “made “omissions”.
Also, as I earlier mentioned, receiving contract beforehand you may notice emissions of earlier mentioned items / services that were promised that were omitted.
Once all your request / concerns are settled between parties then request to see the revised contract to confirm, once done, happily sent up an appointment for the signing and giving deposit.
You the homeowner should not feel that you are over stepping your bounds, you worked very hard for your money and want to make sure you’re protecting your best interest.