Thinking of Remodeling? Go Certified!

Dreaming about your perfect home but stuck in a house you don’t love? You’re in good company! Thanks to shrinking home resale values, thousands of homeowners are choosing to fix up their current home rather than upgrade to a new house. In fact, while home sales remain stagnant, remodeling permits are up 23 percent over last year.

“We’re swamped right now,” says Don Van Cura, the owner of a Chicago-based remodeling firm told Crain’s Chicago Business. “People who might have been expected to move up to a bigger house some years ago are now staying in place.”

Inspired by the home renovation projects on HGTV or Pinterest boards? Before you get started with your remodel, be sure to do your research. A successful remodel starts with selecting a certified contractor.

“Anybody out of work who owns a hammer and screw gun can decide to get into remodeling,” says Ronald Cowgill, president of D/R Services Unlimited Inc. inGlenview,Illinois. “Some of these guys have no corporate names at all. It’s ‘Chuck in a truck.’ And they offer what we call taillight warranties: Watch them drive away from the job and as soon as you can no longer see their taillights, your warranty has expired.”

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) is working hard to change this. NARI calls itself the “The Voice of the Remodeling Industry” and is dedicated to upholding strict standards for quality craftsmanship, accountability and ethics.

Nationwide, more than 800,000 individuals and companies identify as professional remodelers. NARI membership is comprised of only 63,000 contractors.

Like NARI, the Associated General Contractors of America is a trade organization dedicated to improving the quality of construction. Both NARI and AGC contractors are committed to strict standards of integrity and craftsmanship. Whether you’re remodeling your home or building a new addition, be sure to select contractors and remodeling professionals that are members of NARI or AGC.

Not sure about which contractor to choose? Check with your local NARI or AGC organization to find a list of certified remodelers and contractors in your area. When talking with potential contractors, watch out for these warning signs:

#1: You feel pressured to sign a contract.

A professional will never pressure you into signing a contract before you are ready. Be wary of contractors who are impatient and do not listen to your concerns. Once you do sign a contract, you should receive notification in writing of your “Right of Recision.” This notification, required by law, states that you have three days to change your mind and legally declare the contract null and void without any penalty.

#2: You are unable to verify license or insurer information.

The remodeling company should be found in the telephone book, listed with the local Better Business Bureau and local trade organizations. The remodeler should also give you up to date license and insurance information. Never use a contractor that provides information that is out of date or unverifiable.

#3: You are promised a “special, low rate.”

Some unscrupulous contractors and remodelers will promise a “special” discount rate if you sign the contract on the spot. Other remodelers may promise a special deal if you pay in cash or pay in full up front. Yikes! Promises of a special discount are a huge red flag.

Are you a remodeling veteran? Share your tips for selecting the right contractor below.