We're hearing a lot these days about buying local. And for good reason: It's better for the environment and it's a direct way to support local businesses. A similar justification can be applied when it comes time to hire a remodeling contractor. It's often quicker and easier to work with a local professional.
But those aren't the only reasons why you should hire a local remodeler. Engaging in a remodeling project can take a considerable amount of time, money and patience. Under these kind of conditions, it is important that you feel a certain level of trust with the remodeling contractor you have selected. After all, you'll be seeing a lot of, and working with each other often over the course of your project.
The benefits of using a local remodeling contractor work both ways. It can be easier for you to verify a local remodeling contractor's credentials than to check the qualifications of a large company with offices far removed from your neighborhood. If a local contractor has been in business for a few years, he'll already have a local reputation.
Similarly, a local remodeler has more vested in your project than just seeing it completed. If the contractor's work meets or exceeds your expectations, you can become a positive referral, resulting in even more local business for the contractor. Local home improvement contractors often live in the same community as the homes they remodel and can't afford to disappoint their neighbors. Plus, they pay taxes and have a commercial interest in your community's success.
A national poll found the number of people who said they get good ideas and information from word of mouth increased by 25 percentage points. Obviously, we listen to our neighbors and care about what they have to say. More importantly, if they've hired a remodeler, we can watch that remodeler in action, stop by and talk to the remodeler, then make our own judgments.
But what if you don't know of a home improvement contractor in your neighborhood? The Internet has become a virtual word of mouth agent and a valuable source for information on about just about everything, including local remodeling contractors. Online contractor referral services, such as ReliableRemodeler.com, are designed to match your project to up to four local, top quality remodeling contractors. These services are free and typically provide you with more than one free estimate from local remodeling contractors.
When choosing a local home remodeler, remember to evaluate multiple contractors before making your decision. It's important to put your request in writing. Make sure each contractor is aware of your project goals and your estimated budget before they submit a bid.
Contractors are bound by their local and state regulations. Check to see if the contractor you are thinking of choosing is registered with the government and has a current business license. The contractor should be bonded and carry general liability insurance as well. It is permissible for you to ask for copies of any certificates or licenses, as well as for information on local remodeling projects of a similar nature the contractor has completed.
A legitimate local remodeling contractor will provide credentials and references. They shouldn't try high-pressure sales techniques, such as offering you a special price for today only, or tell you they only accept cash. They should provide a written contract and take care of the necessary building permits.
Once you've choosen a local remodeling contractor, you'll need to work closely with them to ensure the project stays true to your budget and your expectations.
Create a Plan - Remember to plan your remodeling project carefully. Try to anticipate problems, such as seasonal interruptions, difficulties with subcontractors or exceeding your planned budget, and come to an agreement with your remodeling contractor on how to best resolve these problems before starting the project.
Agree on a Contract - Ask for a written contract that details everything from type of work to be performed to your payment terms. The written contract should include how to handle mid-project changes, as well as job site cleanup, two common areas of disagreement. Additionally, your remodeling contractor should be willing to list all materials for the project in the contract.
Communicate Often - On-going communication can prevent misunderstandings, delays and cost overruns. Do not be afraid to ask questions, after all it's your house and your money. Make frequent inspections and discuss any concerns with the contractor. A local remodeling contractor's business depends on reputation; consequently, most local contractors are more than willing to work closely with a homeowner to ensure satisfaction.
Be Supportive - Try to keep out of the way of the contractor and subcontractors. That said, you should still be available and ready to make decisions or to answer questions. You might even want to accompany the remodeling contractor to the store to choose materials, if requested.
When your project is done, you will have the dual satisfaction of owning a house that is not only more valuable and more beautiful, but that was completed by the talents of a quality, local remodeler. Good neighbors not only make good fences, they make good investments.