Life would be so much easier if we could trust everyone peddling their products and services. Simply Google “great home remodelers,” pick the name you like the most, and presto change-o, you’ve got a terrific, quality remodel with no hassle and no problems. Unfortunately, a lot of people aren’t as trustworthy or reliable or as skilled as they present themselves to be. So what should you, as a remodeling consumer, do before choosing a remodeler? Some simple homework will go a long way.
Web Search – Search the business name as well as the names of the owners.
Iowa Contractor Registration – There are no contractor licenses available in Iowa for general contractors (only for trades like electrical, plumbing, mechanical), but we are required to be registered with the state. You can do a simple search to find out if a remodeler is complying with this rule at https://contractor.iowa.gov.
Ask About Insurance – Actually ask to see a remodeler’s current certificate of insurance to make sure they are telling the truth about being insured. Ask if the insurance covers everyone on the job and if not, you’ll want to check that those subcontractors have insurance as well. Ask in particular about Work Comp insurance … many contractors do not carry this expensive coverage and you may be liable if one of the contractor’s workers is injured on your property.
Professional Affiliations – Ask what professional organizations the business/owner is involved in. In the greater Des Moines area, remodelers can join the Des Moines Homebuilders Association and Remodelers Council. There’s also the National Kitchen & Bath Association, National Home Builders Association and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. The biggest benefit of professional associations is education, including best practices, technology and new regulations.
Social Media – We love social media because it allows us to share projects with the world. It also gives our customers a chance to share their experiences. Check Houzz, Facebook, Instagram … all great places to see projects and reviews.
BBB – Always do a quick search of the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any unresolved complaints or negative reviews about the company.
Iowa Courts Online – Another good resource that can reveal if a contractor has been in any trouble. Have they had to be sued by homeowners to get work completed? Have subs had to sue for payment? Have they been sued by suppliers for non-payment? Any of these can be a red flag.
References – It might sound old school, but ask the remodeler if you can contact a few past customers. Customers who had a project done similar to yours will be most relevant, and can share details that can’t be found in project pictures. Keep in mind they will likely only give out the names of happy past customers, but drilling deeper could yield useful information.
For the most part you can do a lot of due diligence in a little time online. Time well spent if it helps avoid a dishonest or unskilled remodeler.