Building, remodeling, improving your home

Building, Remodeling, Improving Your Home

These important tips can protect you from substantial financial loss and emotional stress.

  1. Plan your project Plan out in detail what you want done and who you will need to complete it. No two projects are the same, and some may require a specially licensed contractor. Contact your local permitting office to see if permits are required to assure code compliance.
  2. Get several estimates When comparing estimates from different contractors, don’t just compare the bottom-line cost. Look at the cost, quantity and quality of materials in each estimate. Be sure the estimate includes the total price, the materials to be used, a time table for payments and the expected time line for completion of the work.
  3. Verify the contractor’s license In the State of North Carolina, a general contractor must be licensed if the contract is valued at $30,000 or higher. Get proof that the contractor you may be working with is licensed by searching here (link to search).
  4. Check at least 3 references Ask your contractor for written references. Contact each reference and ask if they were satisfied with the contractor’s work and if the contractor kept to the schedule and contract terms.
  5. Require a written contract The contract should be a detailed description of the work to be done, the material to be used and the equipment to be installed. Be sure there is a schedule of payments and a time line for when the work will be completed. Be sure you understand the contract before you sign it. Any changes that occur should be noted in writing.
  6. Don’t make a large down payment The down payment you pay in order for work to begin should be minimal. Beware of contractors asking for a large down payment so that they can purchase the materials to begin your project.
  7. Make payments as work is completed Set up a payment schedule that follows the work as it is being completed. Never pay for something that has not been completed. Do not pay for anything in cash.
  8. Monitor the job in progress Check in regularly on the progress of the work. Permits should be displayed by the contractor while the work is being done.
  9. Don’t make the final payment until the job is complete Before making the final payment make sure that you are satisfied with the completed work. Verify that all liens have been released.
  10. Keep all paperwork related to the job Be sure to keep a record of all documents that pertain to your project. This includes the contract, any written changes, all bills and invoices, receipts of payments and all correspondence with your contractor. You should also include photos of the job in progress.

Remodeling and Home Improvement Contracts

Your contract should contain:

  1. Contractor’s complete information
    Include the company name, address, phone number and the full name and license number of the builder / contractor and the salesperson.
  2. Detailed description of the work to be done
    Include specifics on materials such as color, quantity, size, model number, brand name, product and cost.
  3. Total contract price
    This is the exact dollar amount the contractor will be owed at the completion of all work listed in the contract. If the contract is valued at $30,000 or higher, the contractor must be licensed by the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors. (GS 87-1)
  4. Payment schedule that parallels the amount of work completed
    This schedule includes a “retention” (a percentage of each payment towards the total job which you retain until the entire job is completed.) Be sure to include all payments made to subcontractors and suppliers as well.
  5. Work start and completion dates
    Allow for any reasonable delays. This should also include a clause that allows for you to withhold payment if work slows down for no apparent reason.
  6. Statement of permit responsibility
    Clearly indicate that all required building permits and variances required by your city, state and county will be obtained by the contractor before any work begins.
  7. Guarantee of liability coverage
    Obtain proof that the contractor carries liability insurance and has Worker’s Compensation coverage to protect you in case of accidents on the job.
  8. Statement of warranty on the work
    The contract should indicate that the labor and materials are guaranteed and for an amount of time. Include the names and addresses of the parties honoring the warranties.
  9. Statement of details
    This should include what cleanup and removal of debris and materials will be done by the contractor and when. It should also provide instructions regarding pets, children or areas where materials may not be stored.
  10. Right to cancel clause
    Detail the time frame in which you may cancel after the contract has been signed along with any penalties that you may incur when canceling after work has begun.