KEEP IN MIND THAT YOU’RE DOING MORE than settling on a price. You’re also looking for a contractor who is capable of doing the job, and someone you feel comfortable having around your house for the construction period. If you don’t like talk radio, loud music, or empty beer cans in your borne, this is the time to address those issues. And talk to more than one person: Most remodelers say their clients secure bids from at least three contractors.
“You hire a contractor to improve your property,” says Bruce Hedman, a Dallas-area contractor. “For that to happen, always follow the cardinal rules. Check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints and references for satisfaction. Require liability insurance. And, get a signed contract showing the agreed price, scope of the work, work schedule, and payment plan.”
Just as homeowners often have their nightmare stories, so contractors can identify their “customers from hell.” The woman in spiked heels who walked on a tile floor while it was still wet and lied about damaging it. The man who insisted on numerous changes from die original design and refused to pay for them. However, most disputes can be settled with a little honesty and common sense.
“What sometimes happens is (he customer knows how much the job will cost and how long it will take, but in the middle he tells us to hurry up or cut comers to save some money or get through faster,” says Steve DeCosta, another Dallas contractor. This kind of deviation from the original plan can cause problems.
DeCosta, a classical musician with a master’s degree in music from SMU, brought his artistic sensibilities-and work ethic-to remodeling.
“If a musician says he generally played well, that means somewhere in there he doesn’t play his best. If I’m asked to do something that creates a feeling of the outdoors in a person’s home, I don’t want the people to walk out and say it’s generally okay. “