Renovations are set to tick upwards over the next 5 years and particularly in a down economy, consumers cannot afford to make mistakes or choose an ethical contractor. A successful remodeling experience is possible but it requires due diligence with research and education on how to avoid the pitfalls of renovating a home. Incorporating the following 10 tips will keep homeowners on the right track to a successful outcome.

Renovating an existing home is very often a complex challenge that only those contractors who specialize in this area can competently take on. It’s also a challenge for homeowners to choose the right contractor who is reliable, competent and trustworthy. It is, after all, an industry that has had its fair share of complaints regarding unethical behavior, shoddy workmanship and remodeling disasters.

So it’s wise for the consumer to be wary, but more importantly, to become educated on what they need to know and do to have a positive experience and stay in control of their project. It’s when the homeowner looses control that the project begins to fall apart and serious problems follow. So if having control is the key, how does the homeowner maintain control and what does that entail?
can trust. “Trust” is something that has to be earned and revealed to the homeowner though their due diligence in researching their options. This includes knowing what their responsibilities, rights and laws dictate and making sure their written agreements reflect this. Transparency for both the contractor and homeowners’ intentions regarding the project is a crucial part of a successful renovation and working relationship.

With that said, the following 10 tips will help homeowners achieve a more positive experience by choosing the right contractor and understanding that it is their responsibility to get informed.

1. Conducting background checks: This includes license checks, lawsuits, complaint history and credit standing with suppliers.

2. Scope of Work and Specifications Sheet: Learning what a thoroughly written spec sheet must include and what to look for.

3. Contract clauses for added protection: If you don’t know what those are, contact an attorney for review of your contract.

4. Lien Releases and Waivers: Know what these are and how to protect yourself from having your property fraudulently liened.

5. Understanding of contractor state laws and responsibilities: Research what your and the contractors’ legal responsibilities are.

6. Exhaustive review and apple-to-apple comparison of proposals: Never rely on price alone and understand what each contractor is proposing. Side by side comparison of materials and costs is imperative.

7. Minimum amount of down payment given to start project: Varies by state as to minimums but never give a large amount to start. If unsure, contact a construction law attorney for advice.

8. Thoroughly interview contractors with questions regarding past and present experiences, problem solving and business ethics.

9. Pay attention to, and be honest about how you feel about the contractor, knowing they will be working in your home for a set period of time.

10. Having mutual respect in communicating ideas between both parties must be understood, expected and articulated so that misunderstandings are avoided.

It’s a fact that home remodeling disasters can and do happen. But it’s also true that many projects are completed without problems and much success. The difference in where you end up goes right to how well the homeowner plans, researches and gets educated before they even begin the search for a contractor.