The Consumer's Guide To Successful Home
Important Information That Can Save You Thousands
When You Remodel Your Home
After 14 years in the home remodeling business, I've
compiled my extensive experience into an informative report
that will help you choose the right remodeling contractor
for your project.
If you follow the guidelines in this report, I'm confident
you'll find someone you'll be pleased with, whether you choose
to do business with me or any other qualified professional.
This information will show you how to avoid the frustration
and heartache that so many people suffer from when they remodel
their homes. I hope you find it useful.
Without further delay, here are the six points to follow
for a successful remodeling project...
Point # 1 - Avoid Common Misconceptions
Point # 2 - Common Scams
Point # 3 - How To Choose The Right Contractor,
12 Questions To Ask Before Inviting Him Out To Your Home
Point # 4 - The Biggest Mistakes Homeowners Make And How To
Point # 5 - How To Tell If Your Remodeling
Project will run Smoothly Before you sign the Contract
Point # 6 - Plan Your Project!
# 1 - Avoid Common Misconceptions
1. If the Better Business Bureau doesn't have any
complaints against the contractor, he must be qualified.
This is a common and often costly misconception. In fact,
just because a contractor doesn't have any complaints
with the BBB,
does not mean you're working with someone who is a reputable
professional. You need to investigate the company further.
Many contractors, though they have no BBB complaints,
do not do a satisfactory job (much less, a superior job).
you're dealing with a reputable professional, use the
BBB as a starting place, not the only place.
Also keep in mind, the BBB is not a government agency
and it does not keep a record on every contractor in
town. There are
several very reputable contractors the BBB has no record
of at all. To truly gain perspective on a contractor's
research beyond the BBB.
2. Going with the lowest price saves you money.
No, not necessarily! Everyone tends to look for the lowest
price. On a low estimate, you must ask yourself what
is being left out or what shortcut is being taken. Let me explain...
One roofer had his re-roof job $300 cheaper than anyone
homeowner wanted to save money and accepted his proposal. After
the job was completed, the old shingles and nails were still
lying around the yard and the homeowner was upset. The
contractor told them that he had not figured the cleanup
in his proposal and that was why he could do the job
so much cheaper
than anyone else could.
One of the most common signs of trouble ahead is someone
offering to do work for much less money than others.
Like anything else,
you can't get something for nothing. Be careful
of choosing your contractor based upon the lowest price.
3. Doing it yourself saves money.
Sometimes the "weekend warrior" can undertake small
projects like painting, hanging wallpaper, routine repairs,
etc. But beware of undertaking larger, more complicated
projects. What starts out as an attempt to save money can turn
into a costly mess. All too often, the job is botched
and it costs more to have a reputable professional come in
and fix what's been done. According to an article in
Remodeling Magazine, less than 20% of these do-it-yourself
jobs work out - mostly due to lack of experience on the part
of the homeowner. If you want to be assured your
project will turn out the way you want it, call a reputable
If a person claims to have many years of experience,
they must do quality work.
I can't tell you how many people receive
bad workmanship from contractors who've claimed to be in
business or the
twenty years. Take experience claims with a grain of
salt. Just because a contractor claims to have twenty
years experience, does not mean you'll get what you want. He
could have done a poor job for twenty years. Investigate
further to ensure you're dealing with a qualified professional.
Point # 2 - Common Scams
1. "Today only" discounts.
If a contractor ever tells you the price
is available for "today
only," it's time to show him the door. Quite often
they'll provide you a story that by signing today you're
to a "model home" or "advertising discount." The
story centers around the need to use your home as a model
to advertise their services in the neighborhood.
their prices up just to give you this false discount. Don't
be fooled. This is an old trick used to pressure homeowners
into making a quick decision. This is your money we're
talking about! Quickly ask these salespeople to leave!
2. Avoid high-pressure salespeople.
You should never feel pressured into making a decision about
choosing your contractor. If you ever feel that a contractor
or salesman is pressuring you, ask them to back off. If
they persist, its time to look for another contractor. High pressure
usually leads to a bad decision when remodeling. A qualified,
reputable professional would never pressure anyone into
3. Beware of "Door-To-Door" contractors.
These people may not be contractors at
all. Never allow
them into your home until you have checked. them
out thoroughly! I can't stress enough. It was recently
that two men claiming to be contractors entered into a
home, and while one took the homeowner on a pretend inspection,
the other was going through purses and picking up items
could be sold quickly.
Some contractors working in your area may put out flyers
or come to your door soliciting additional work in the
area. These contractors could be honest, reputable people.
you should not invite them in. Instead, politely ask them
for their business card and the name, address, and telephone
number of the people they are doing work for in the neighborhood.
Then make an appointment with that homeowner to take a
look at the quality of their work.
# 3 - How To Choose The Right Contractor...
To Ask Before Inviting Him Out To Your Home
1. Are you licensed?
Make sure your contractor is properly
licensed. In the State of New York, all contractors MUST
be licensed in the county
they do business in. Anyone can say they are licensed. Make
the contractor prove it by either showing you the license
or giving you a copy of it. Remember to check the expiration
date, and the county if it's a countywide license. Being
licensed is the law. If a contractor cannot produce a valid
license, DO NOT HIRE HIM!
If you have any questions or doubts, call the Nassau County
Department of Consumer Affairs.
2. Do you carry general liability insurance?
Make sure your contractor carries general liability insurance.
This type of insurance protects your property in case of
damage caused by the contractor and/or his employees. The
insurance company will pay for the cost of replacing and/or
repairing any damage that occurs.
Anyone can say they are insured. Ask the contractor to have
their insurance company FAX or mail you a certificate of
insurance with you named as the certificate holder.
3. Do you carry workers' compensation insurance?
Make sure your contractor carries workers' compensation insurance.
It protects you from liability if a worker is injured while
on your property. Be aware that if the contractor doesn't
carry workers' compensation coverage, you may be liable for
any injuries suffered by the contractor or any of his employees
on your property.
If the contractor is a one-man operation, he can be exempt
from having to carry workers' compensation insurance. If
he is doing so legally, he can provide you with a copy of
his Construction Industry Certificate of Exemption From Workers'
Compensation. This is very risky for you though. If he shows
up with a helper and the helper gets hurt, with no workers'
compensation insurance, you may have to pay the medical bills.
If the uninsured contractor is sloppy about verifying his
sub-contractor's workers' compensation insurance and the
sub-contractor gets hurt, again you may have to pay the medical
bills. In short, it is much safer to deal with a fully insured
4. Will you provide me with a written lien waiver?
Your contractor should provide you with a written lien waiver
at the end of the job. This is a legal document which says
you, the homeowner, have paid the contractor in full for
the services rendered and the contractor waives his right
to place a mechanic's lien on your property. If during the
course of construction you receive any Notice to Owner documents
from material suppliers or sub-contractors, it would be prudent
to ask the contractor for a Final Release of Lien from each
one prior to paying the contractor his final draw. This protects
you in case the contractor doesn't pay his material suppliers
or sub-contractors after you have paid him in full.
5. Are you a member of NARI or NAHB?
NARI stands for the National Association of the Remodeling
Industry and NAHB stands for the National Association of
Home Builders. It's always a good idea to consider hiring
a NARI or NAHB contractor. In most cases, both organizations
only attract conscientious contractors interested in bettering
the industry and in weeding out unprofessional contractors.
In order to become a member, the contractor's background
and references are thoroughly investigated.
6. Will you pull all the required building permits?
Make sure your contractor pulls all required
permits. This is very important. When a contractor pulls
the required building
permits, you know things will be done to "code".
Also, many homeowner's insurance policies require pulling
a permit on any major remodeling to keep your home properly
covered. Not all contractors will do this. Many prefer not
to pull permits because of the time involved and the "hassle" with
the inspectors. Some contractors may ask you to get the permits.
This could be a warning sign that they are not able to pull
the permit because they are unlicensed, or the work is outside
of their license. A reputable contractor will permit every
job where a permit is required.
7. Do you guarantee your work?
Your contractor should guarantee his work for at least one
year from date of completion. Some contractors guarantee
their work for two or even three years.
8. Who will be in charge of the job?
Make sure the contractor or his foreman is on the job whenever
work is being performed - especially if subcontractors will
be used. The responsible party must be intimately
familiar with every aspect of your project. If you won't
be home during the construction and must leave the house
unlocked, or leave a key with the contractor, you must feel
comfortable. You can't be worried about what is going on
when you are not there.
9. Will you provide me with written references?
A good contractor will be happy to provide you with references.
You should look for a well established contractor who can
give you several client references from the last 6 months
to one year. Ask for the name of the contractor's accountant
or banker. You want to ensure the contractor is financially
sound and won't be declaring bankruptcy in the middle of
10. What percentage of your business is repeat or referral
When a significant source of a contractor's business is derived
from repeat and referral business, it usually indicates that
his clients are pleased with the work they've received.
11. How many projects like mine have you completed in the
Your contractor should have experience
in the type of remodeling project you want done - not just "contracting experience".
How do you handle "dirty work?"
Construction is dusty and dirty! It gets everywhere, especially
if any sanding is being done. Make sure the contractor will
make an honest effort to keep the dust contained, or notify
you when the heavy dust generating operations will take place
so you can place sheets over furniture or move sensitive
belongings. Make sure the contractor agrees to sweep up and
place all construction debris in a predetermined place or
refuse container at the end of every day.
Point # 4 - The Biggest Mistakes Homeowners Make And How
To Avoid Them
1. Listening to the wrong people.
It never ceases to amaze me how many people take advice
on their construction and remodeling project from people
are totally unqualified to give this critical advice. Quite
often, when I see construction messes, (which I see virtually
every day) and I ask where they got the idea to do this or
that, I inevitably hear things like:
• My brother-in-law told me
to do that. He used to do work like this on the side
when he was a student.
• I asked the guy in the office next to mine. He did
the same thing to his home when he lived in Wisconsin.
• I read an article by so-and-so that said we should
got an opinion on what you should do with your remodeling
dollars. "Do it yourself' or "Hire
the sub-contractors and run the project yourself', etc.
because someone is your relative, friend, or thinks they
know construction, doesn't mean they know the answers to
your remodeling questions or problems.
If you've got an idea or a thought about improving your home,
call a reputable, qualified professional to answer your questions.
2. Call at least three of the references you're given.
So many people start out on the right track by asking
for references but then never call them. You can never
too much about the contractor you are considering using.
Take a few minutes to talk to these people. Most will be
pleased to accept your calls. It will be worth it! Ask
if the job was done on time and at the agreed
upon price. Ask if the contractor was easy to reach and
easy to deal with.
3. Visit the references and see example work.
You can learn a lot by seeing the
finished product. If the contractor is good, many previous
clients are extremely
of their "new" home and will be glad to let you
See a job in progress. Is the job site clean? Or are tools
and materials strewn about like a hurricane just blew through?
Is everything dusty and dirty, or is it covered or sealed
off? Chances are if a contractor keeps his work sites clean
and neat, especially at the end of the day when it's time
to go home, you've got a conscientious contractor.
#5 - How To Tell If Your Remodeling Project Will Run Smoothly...
Before You Sign The Contract
1. Good communication.
If you can talk with each other, you can work out any details
that come up.
• When you leave a message,
does he return your call?
• Does he return a page promptly?
• Does he listen to you?
is more important than feeling like your contractor understands
your needs and concerns. If your contractor
is so busy that he can't return calls or pages promptly,
it's time to look for a new contractor. When you're in
a discussion, does the contractor really listen to you?
really listen. This is vital.
You should always feel like the both of you are on the
same page. This can avoid miscommunication and costly
errors. This is a very important "secret" to
a successful and enjoyable remodeling experience. Choose
someone who will
listen to you.
If you feel comfortable with your contractor, the chances
are good your project will run smoothly. Think about
it. You've just invited a stranger into your home. Do
this person nice? Considerate? Personable? A listener?
Was he polite and courteous? Or did he make you feel
wasn't interested? You will be working with this person
for a matter of days, weeks, or months depending upon
you need completed. Can you stand to have this person
If you feel your contractor is trustworthy, the likelihood
of a successful project is good. Check his references.
Keep in mind that if your project will entail entrance into your
home and you won't be home during the day, the keys to
your castle will be given to your contractor. Can you trust him?
Listen to your conscience.
Will your contractor give you a reasonable estimate for
how long the project will take to complete. A good contractor
will do this. Remember, you want to hire a good contractor,
not get a new roommate! Nothing is more frustrating and
than a remodel job that drags on and on.
5. Written Proposal.
I can't tell you how many contractors I've seen look
at rather complex jobs, pick a price out of thin air,
figure only on the back of their business card, and give
the card to the homeowner.
Show contractors that do this the door! You want a detailed
written proposal that shows what is included: exact materials,
brand names where important, costs, and the payment schedule.
Work out the little details before work begins. Talk
about things like:
• Where will the dumpster
go, or the debris pile be created?
• What time will construction begin in the morning?
• What time will construction end in the evening?
• Will work take place on weekends?
• Will workmen refrain from smoking inside the house?
Remodeling is an interruption to your
normal lifestyle. If your project involves the kitchen,
plan on eating a
meals out with the kids (or better yet, send the kids to "Mom" and
go out alone). Remodeling time may not be the best time
to host a slumber party for your eight-year-old daughter.
If your contractor has a neat appearance, this is a very
good sign of things to come. This may sound silly, but
it's not. He doesn't have to show up in a coat and tie,
Is he clean? Is his truck presentable, or falling apart?
Is his truck permanently lettered and contain his license
number? If his appearance is neat, chances are good he
will keep your job and your home neat.
9. Down payment.
If the contractor asks for a big chunk of money up front,
this could be a tip-off that they are not in good financial
shape and you could be in for a rocky experience. A fair
down payment should not exceed one third, unless custom
ordered items are needed in the beginning stage of construction.
As the work progresses, you should expect to pay out additional
funds to match the prescribed, completed stages.
10. Change orders.
With remodeling, there is always the chance that you
may want or need to change a material or contract item.
how these are handled. They should be written on a separate
showing in detail what is being changed and how much it
will cost. This should be done before the change is affected
signed by both the contractor and homeowner.
# 6 - Plan Your Project! This
is really the greatest "secret" of
Plan your project with a qualified remodeling expert!
people spend more time planning a one-week vacation than
they do a major remodel of their home. If you're considering
a remodel in the near future, sitting down and talking with
a professional remodeling expert who can answer all of your
questions is the best advice I know.
Someone who can help you through the "maze" of
planning, not to mention all the bureaucratic "red tape" awaiting
you at the building department! Someone who listens to your
every concern. Someone who subscribes to the principles and "secrets" discussed
As you might have guessed, this is the
only way K & J
Contracting works. Initially, I provide a FREE, NO OBLIGATION
interview to determine your concerns, and see if I may be of
service to you and
your family. Hopefully, I can show you,
as I have many others, how to make your home absolutely gorgeous,
something you can be
truly proud of.
Sounds good, doesn't it?
You have to understand, I truly love helping my clients remodel
their homes. I am hired by several people each month as their
If all this makes sense, and you like my approach to remodeling,
please give me a call at 516-735-8032.
This will be a chance
for you to meet me, and see if my services can benefit you.
If after our meeting, you believe there
is no benefit to be derived from working with me, I simply
leave and that is that. If, however, you would like my help,
we will discuss how we proceed. I can't think of a better
way to work. Can you?