We often get calls from people asking if we can inspect their basement remodeling job because they have concerns. The answer is yes, we do perform remodeling inspections on a consulting basis, and have also been called to provide expert testimony in remodeling lawsuits. However, the best way to avoid the worst remodeling nightmares is to be fully informed about the process, and to carefully select who does the work.
Here are some suggestions to help you get through your remodeling project BEFORE you call us with concerns.
- A quality remodeling contractor should not ask you for more than a small deposit when you sign your contract, and will go to great lengths to explain your rights under both state and local laws, including any special jurisdictions’ additions. If a contractor demands a large up-front deposit, it could be a red flag: perhaps they don’t have adequate credit with their suppliers.
- A written contract is a must. The contract should specify the scope of work, the start and end date, the cost and payment schedule, and who will be performing the work.
- Ask for a copy of their license and proof of insurance. Check the license and ask that their insurance carrier MAIL you a cover page showing you as an insured.
- Make sure they are licensed for the work they are performing. A general contractor’s license is not an electrician’s or plumber’s license. Also, make sure the license is current; check with your state licensing authority.
- Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there are past complaints about the company. You can also check on Angie’s List, or do a web search using the company’s name.
- Are they in permanently marked vehicles and using printed letterhead? Magnetic signs and “stock” contracts from the stationery store are not good indicators.
- Almost all but the smallest remodeling projects will require permits. Adding lights, outlets, switches and almost any plumbing work requires permits. If your contractor either says he can do it without permits, or wants YOU to pull the permits, you should seriously question why. Permits are to protect you. If you pull the permits, you are the responsible party, not the contractor. The person doing the work, or supervising it, should pull the permits.
- Work sites need to be clean, neat and orderly at the end of each and every work day. Messy worksites are dangerous to both you and the contractor’s workers.
- Don’t give final payment until ALL permits have been completed, finalled or otherwise acceptably closed and you have the paperwork in hand. Some of the best contractors will say that the last payment is due some period AFTER they have completed all of the work.
What can we inspect for you?
- We SHOULD only be inspecting fit & finish as the electrical, plumbing and Heating/Cooling SHOULD be inspected by the local authority as part of the permit process.
- We can only inspect what we can SEE. If the drywall is already installed, we can’t see the components.
- We prefer to do “pre-drywall Inspections” when almost all of the infrastructure has been completed but the walls are not yet closed up. At this time we can see all the plumbing, electrical, insulation and ventilation components and take the time to inspect them carefully, possibly seeing things that the permit inspector missed due to constraints on his time.
- We are happy to review ideas and plans as consultants, pointing out the things we have seen become problems in other (including our own) remodeling projects.
Got questions? Contact us about YOUR project and what we might be able to do for you.