Research Before You Hire

Before you start the remodeling process, be mentally prepared for some inconveniences. Delays can occur due to weather, homeowner change-orders and out-of-stock building materials, all of which can add up to homeowner frustrations and frazzled nerves. Expect your home and yard to be in disarray at times. Lots of dust can be kicked up inside your home so make sure you change your A/C filters routinely. Try to get some background information on your contractor you are allowing inside your home.  Most good remodelers belong to trade associations like the BBB, Home Builders/Remodelers Association, etc.

The good news is, once the remodeling project is completed you will have the long-awaited home improvements to enjoy with your family for many years to come. The following home-tips might help your home improvements go smoothly. If you know a friend whom is satisfied with their remodeling project and contractor, ask them for the contractors name and number. Also, ask if you can preview their home to make sure this is the quality you are expecting. Check with your local home builders’ and remodeling association to see if the company you are considering is a member. Ask the association what they stand for and what they expect from their members. If the company you are considering is not a member of a local association, that does not mean their company has a bad reputation or does bad work.

Call the local Better Business Bureau to see if any outstanding complaints are on file. If so, ask the company
about any complaints.

Make sure you feel comfortable and communicate well with your home improvement representative/owner. You might be spending many hours, weeks and/or months with this person.

Ask for at least 10 references. If you don’t call all of them, at least mix up the way you call them, and ask
pointed questions. Also ask for and call references that are over one-year out of warranty to validate the
contractor follows through.

Ask the home improvement company for warranties and guarantees and get them in writing.

Look closely at extremely low bids and keep in mind you get what you pay for. Always get at least three bids and make sure all plans and specifications are the same and up to date for each bidder. Try to be very clear with your plans and specifications so there are no misunderstandings. Two reason for the third bid are, first, to establish a price range. Second, to make sure you find the contractor you can communicate with and one whom can deliver quality workmanship.

Have an attorney review your contract, draw stages, and specifications. Additionally, have an attorney explain the mechanics material mans and builders lien laws so you understand how your property can be tied up. Remodeling and Contractor laws are changing to better protect the public, ask about any new law changes in your state.

Texas New Law Changes 1999: (1.) Lead Hazards Disclosure Rule: Contractors and Remodelers have to deliver the new EPA pamphlet to homeowners and receive back a signed acknowledgment if their home was built prior to 1979. This disclosure explains that Lead Base Paint could be present in your home and can be hazardous to your health before a remodeler starts disturbing as little as 1-square-foot of painted surface area. (2.) Texas Statutory Disclosure Statement: This new law requires paperwork that must be
given to the homeowner before signing a contract explaining that liens could be filed against your property, monitor contractor payments and the work-in-progress, ect. This disclosure warns homeowners that some contractors could be unscrupulous and buyer beware. (3.) Texas Trust Fund Statute: This new law is like the Real Estate Industry Law regarding CO-mingling funds. Contractors/Remodelers can not take your money (deposits/draws) and use them on someone  else’s job. Contractors/Remodelers can not deposit your funds in their normal operating business account. Remodeler must deposit your funds in a separate trust checking account and can only pull your funds from that account as their work progresses on your home. Contractor can draw against your funds once the construction is under way towards his expenses, profit and overhead. If contractor/remodeler doesn’t abide by or decides to misuse this new law, they could go to jail. (4.) Statutory Lien Requirements on a Homestead: For a Lien to be valid the contract should have the legal description and have both spouses signature notarized. Also no labor or material can been furnished to the job site before the contract is signed. Additionally, if you obtain a home improvement
loan, work can not start before for 5 days allowing the homeowner time to change his or her mind. Contractor and Remodeler are suppose to give the homeowner a list on his or her subcontractors and supplies with their address and phone numbers at signing of the contract. Lastly, you should receive before the final payment “All Bills Paid Affidavit” from your contractor.

The new law changes in Texas are in a “Readers Digest” short form. All related laws are different around the
country, ask your attorney to explain in more detail your homeowner rights and laws in your area. Good Luck, and always do your home work!