After years of a slumping housing market, things might be looking a little brighter. The Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity predicts that remodeling projects will pick up this year, indicating that the sales of existing homes will rise as well.
“Sales of existing homes have been increasing in recent months, offering more opportunities for home improvement projects,” said Kermit Baker, director of the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center in a press release. “As lending institutions become less fearful of the real estate sector, financing will become more readily available to owners looking to undertake remodeling.”
For those moving into new homes or looking to renovate their current space, Better Business Bureau reminds you to be wary of shady contractors and on the lookout for scams.
When hiring a contractor, keep the following tips in mind:
- Start with trust. Contractors that ask for payment up front, perform shoddy work, refuse refunds and fail to address issues are common complaints BBB receives. Homeowners can avoid these companies by doing their homework by checking the company’s BBB Business Review.
- Do a background check. BBB recommends homeowners ask all contractors for local references and find out if those customers were satisfied with the contractor’s work. Ask for permits, city code compliances and, if possible, homeowners should visit and inspect completed projects.
- Compare costs. Solicit at least three bids from prospective contractors based on the same building specifications, materials, labor and time needed to complete the project. It is important to discuss bids in detail with each contractor and make certain to understand the reasons for any variations in price. Try BBB’s free Request-a-Quote service but remember to not automatically make a decision based on the lowest price. Cost differences may include issues such as quality of materials, craftsmanship and subcontracting for specialized labor.
- Check on insurance. Ask contractors if the company is insured against claims covering worker’s compensation, property damage and personal liability in case of accidents. BBB advises to call and verify the contractor’s insurance coverage after obtaining the name of the carrier and agency.
- Get it in writing. Read any contracts carefully and make sure any agreed upon discounts or extra work is included before you sign. Ask about any guarantees, how long they last and what they cover. Make sure those guarantees are also in the contract.