It is an interesting, but sobering fact that a sizable percentage of Westside Remodeling’s annual income comes from fixing failed work done by others. As an example, we once fixed a problem where another contractor installed a sliding glass door without a header—believe it or not.
In another instance, we made a shocking discovery while working on a kitchen remodel. The homeowners were completely unaware that, in order to relocate a drain line for the kitchen sink, the previous contractor had cut away all the support studs for the wall. The only thing holding up the house was the stucco!
My most unforgettable situation involved a woman who told us Westside came highly recommended, but she decided to use another remodeler. He had given her a lower price, and by using his services she could afford to remodel her master bath in addition. Six months later, she called us in tears, “Would you come out and look at this disaster!” Nothing in her house was completed; a giant pile of debris stretched from the front entrance through the living room; boxes of plumbing fixtures with missing parts were stacked one on top of the other. Before the framing was completed, the remodeler had been installing cabinets just so he could get another check. He never pulled any permits. He did this to several people and then left the country. Westside agreed to take the job, which involved cleaning up the mess and tearing out the shoddy workmanship. The homeowner ended up paying us more than our original bid.
When it comes time for your remodeling project, you don’t want to worry that someday you’ll be telling your own personal remodeling horror story. From the very beginning, you want assurance that your contractor will do things right the first time and stand behind their work should something go wrong. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) has a list of questions on their website that you should ask of potential contractors.
We also recommend that you do the following before hiring:
• Visit the Contractor State Licensing Board to check on the state of the remodeler’s license. Make sure the license is active and valid.
• Check for workman’s compensation insurance.
• Check for liability insurance. Ask the contractor to show you his insurance certificate and look to see that it’s up to date.
• Ask for references, and go look at the finished work. Pay special attention to how the details are handled where different materials intersect—for example, where a tile floor meets a cabinet.
• Know if you will have an on-site supervisor or if the job will be run from an office. Westside uses the Lead Carpenter system, for example.
• Understand how the contractor facilitates communication between the various trades.
• Ask if he gives a guaranteed completion date and lifetime warranty on workmanship
• It is helpful if the contractor is local, so you know he will be there for you, if you have needs.
Remember this: quality and service come at a higher initial price. Low-ball bids are invariably the result of corner-cutting. Choose your contractor with care, and you will save money down the road by avoiding expensive and invasive repairs in the future.
Just like you, I’m also amazed at how much things cost nowadays. The only thing that costs more is when you have to do it again!