Choosing a Home Improvement Contractor in MD, VA or DC
Choosing a remodeling contractor in Maryland, Virginia or DC is the most important decision you’ll make when planning your project. Here are some guidelines on how to find a contractor for your home renovations.
1. Review the contractor’s license status. In Maryland, a home improvement contractor must be licensed and in good standing with the Maryland Home Improvement Commission, and with the DC Home Improvement Commission in the District of Columbia. It is always a good idea to review a company’s license status and past history. Avoid hiring a contractor with marks against their license. To check out Maryland home remodeling contractors go to http://www.dllr.state.md.us/pq/ and for DC home remodeling contractors go to http://www.contractors-license.org/dc/DistofColumbia.html. To check out Virginia home remodeling contractors go to http://www.dpor.virginia.gov/LicenseLookup/. We are happy to invite you to check out our flawless record and our high regard within our community.
2. Member of the Better Business Bureau? Ask if the contractor is a member of the Better Business Bureau. Review the company’s performance and how any issues were resolved at http://dc-easternpa.bbb.org/. If there is a history of complaints, this will indicate how the company conducts business.
3. Check references. Ask for references that include past and current clients, particularly those with home renovation projects similar in scope and size to your project. Make sure that they have more than just a couple references for the type of project that you are planning. Please feel free to request our Tabor reference sheet with more than just a few happy satisfied customers.
4. Ask for proof of insurance. Make sure the home improvement contractor is fully insured with both liability insurance, which covers property damage, AND workers’ compensation insurance, that covers personal injuries on the job site. Don’t risk hiring an uninsured contractor whose employee could be injured working on your home and hold you liable. At Tabor, we are fully insured and are happy to provide an insurance certificate upon request.
5. Determine percent of revenue from ‘change orders’. Change orders occur when a so-called unexpected block of work must be added to the original work order, typically causing additional costs in labor, materials, or both. Some not so reputable companies intentionally bid low, planning to add in seemingly unexpected costs later. These companies may earn as much as fifty percent or more of their total income from supposedly unplanned cost overruns, as a result of this practice. At Tabor, only about two percent of our total revenue is due to unanticipated costs, with most of these being client driven… “while you’re here, could you add this.”
6. Get assurance that employees are permanent. Many companies hire day laborers and other temporary employees without any type of background check or references. Some well known local companies even bring people on work release from jail to their client’s homes. You can rest assured that all of Tabor’s crew members are regular payroll employees and that we conduct criminal background checks, as well as check past references for everyone we hire. In addition, we only work with sub-contractors who have the same policies regarding permanent employees. We insist that the same people we are inviting into your home to interact with your family, are the same people we would bring into our homes to meet our families.
7. Ask about financing and tax credits. Many homeowners cannot afford to or don’t want to pay for their total renovation project up front. This is understandable. We can assist you in locating financing options that work for you, as well as informing you of available tax credits for which you may qualify.
8. Meet your prospective contractor and trust your instincts. Schedule a meeting with a potential remodeling contractor in your home to discuss the project. Visit their showroom, if they have one. Each time you meet with a different contractor, trust your instincts. Are they listening to you and asking questions to identify specifically what you want? Are they answering your questions honestly or telling you what they think you want to hear? Are they responsive to your calls and questions? Do they follow through on what they say they are going to do? Remember, you may be working with your home improvement contractor for several months, so make sure this is someone you trust and can get along with.
Here Are Some Important Questions You May Want To Ask A Home Improvement Contractor:
Feel free to print this list of questions to ask any home remodeling company you are speaking with.
- Is the company licensed, bonded and insured? (Ask to see documentation)
- How long has the company been in business?
- How much experience does the company have with your type of project?
- Does the company offer design services?
- What percent of the company’s revenue comes from extra charges associated with change orders? (Revenue from change orders should not exceed 5%.)
- If the representative does not know how much income is generated from change orders, are they willing to find out and get back to you?
- Is the owner personally involved in managing your project, or is it delegated to a low level employee somewhere down the chain of command?
- Does the company have full-time employees who have been with the company for some time, as opposed to contractual employees or day laborers?
- Are the lead carpenters certified? Will they be on your project every day or will you have to manage the project?
- How much of the work will be subcontracted and who will manage the subcontractors?
- Can the company help you with financing your project?
- Will they protect you and your family from lead or asbestos in your home?
- How will your property be protected during construction?
- Will the job site be cleaned daily?
- Does the contract include everything (permits, labor costs, materials, etc.)?
- Does the company specify that they use quality products, as opposed to cheaper and lower quality substitutes?
- Does the company write a work schedule in advance of beginning the project, complete with all details included, in order to finish your project on time?
- Does the company have a thorough warranty?
- Has the company ever gone out of business, not completed a project or been sued by a client?
- Is the company financially stable enough to complete your project without relying on payments from another job?
- Does the company have extensive references from more than three satisfied customers? What do the references say?
- Is the company a member of an association, such as the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), which requires its members to adhere to a code of ethics?
- How many awards has the company won?
- Does the company belong to the Better Business Bureau?
If these issues are important to you, Tabor Design Build is your best choice. Please contact our office at 301.417.6570!