BBB tips for finding a home improvement contractor


By John North - Contributing columnist



The warmer weather has got many people thinking about making some home improvements. You’ve had all winter to think about what you would like to change about your home.

Some people might have thought about it since quarantine. According to the 2020 Home Improvement Trends Study by Lightstream, 77% of homeowners were going to make home improvements in the year 2020.

On average homeowners spent around $11,473 when improving their home, according to Wakefield Research. Whether you’re looking to renovate the kitchen, bathroom or another room, finding the right contractor is important.

The Better Business Bureau offers tips for finding a trustworthy home improvement contractor:

• Plan your project(s). Before you hire anyone, you need to know what you would like to renovate. Gather pictures from the internet or from family and friends remodeled spaces you like.

• Set a realistic budget. Leave room for unexpected costs. On average, most renovations exceed the budget by 10%.

• Check the National Association of the Remodeling Industry for a list of members in your area.

• Get at least three estimates. Walk through them with contractors so they know your expectations and you both understand everything.

• Don’t fall for the door-to-door contractors claiming to be working in your neighborhood or have extra materials.

• Ask your contractor about his or her professional trade association memberships. Many of these organizations bind them to a strict code of ethics.

• Ask for references. You want to know how their past work has turned out. Make sure they have positive reviews and the contractor has left nothing unfinished. Ask about the quality of work. Did the contractor finish on time? Were there extra costs along the way? Were there any issues? If so, how were they taken care of?

• Check to see if the contractor is licensed, bonded and insured as appropriate to do work in your area.

• Ask if the contractor will be using subcontractors. If so, ask the contractor to meet them and ask for references, too.

• Say no to high-pressure sales tactics and handshake deals without a contract.

• Ask about permits. Make sure your contractor has obtained necessary permits before work begins.

• Get everything in writing and read over the contract. It should include a start date and a completion date, detailed description of all work being done, materials being used, payment arrangements, warranties/guarantees and verbal promises.

• Don’t pay upfront for the entire job. Never pay a contractor in cash. Always use a credit card or check. A trustworthy contractor will accept one-third of the payment upfront, one-third halfway through and one-third at the end of the project when it’s been successfully completed. Request a receipt marked “paid in full” when the job is completed and your final payment is made.

For more home improvement tips, visit BBB.org or call 937-222-5825 or 800-776-5301. The Better Business Bureau can provide a list of BBB Accredited Businesses in the industry and Business Profiles on companies you are considering. If you fall victim to a scam, report it to BBB.org/scamtracker.

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By John North

Contributing columnist

The writer is the president and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Dayton and Miami Valley.

The writer is the president and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Dayton and Miami Valley.