Your home is probably your most expensive investment. Before you spend thousands of dollars on building or remodeling, you need to do your homework and understand your role as a consumer.
Your first step is to plan:
- Think your project through from start to finish. Consider special needs you may have and how you will use the space in the future. Consult an architect or designer if necessary, and decide on a realistic budget.
- Think about the materials you want to use – visit lumber yards and suppliers, look at magazines featuring distinctive home designs, see what friends and family have done, or do research on the Internet.
- Clearly define the job you want done in a specification sheet and rough floor plan which you can give to potential contractors. When all the contractors who bid on your job work from the same design plan, you are most likely to get complete and accurate bids that can be compared.
Shop for Quality – Not the Lowest Price
Once you develop a list of builders or remodelers, find out about their reputations and the quality of their work. Recording all information, as well as your own impressions about specific contractors and homes, in a notebook helps to make comparisons easier. The best way to learn about contractors is to visit homes they have built or remodeled and talk to the owners. Don’t be shy. Knock on doors and ask people how they like their homes, and whether they would buy another home from the builder or have another remodeling job done by the contractor. The more people you talk to, the better the cross section of opinion you’ll receive.
Check Each Contractor’s Credentials
Find out how long the firm has been in business and
what kind of reputation it has established in the community. Try to ascertain information about the contractor’s credit rating. Check with the Better Business Bureau and local consumer protection agencies to learn if there have been any complaints. Also find out if the contractor is a member of the local homebuilders association.
Consumers planning to build or remodel a home can also protect their investment by seeking out those professionals in the home building industry who are licensed contractors. To obtain a Michigan Construction License, builders must demonstrate – through exam performance and prior construction experience – that they possess the necessary qualifications to perform or oversee construction, renovation, alteration, repair, removal or demolition involving the structural elements of buildings. Remodelers must register with the state as a remodeling contractor.