Documents, Please!

When hiring a custom remodeler or contractor, be sure to check their credentials.  Don’t just ask whether or not they have them.  Request the documentation.  As the market begins to increase for custom remodeling, there will be more contractors trying to bid jobs.  Do your due diligence.  Look for a contractor who can demonstrate stability.  You want them to be around for the long haul.  Ask for items like a bank letter and insurance certificate, supplier reference letters and business licenses.  

The bank letter will show the company’s financial stability and the bank’s character judgement about the custom remodeler.  The insurance certificate will show the general liability coverage – which should be no less than $1,000,000.  Not only will this give you peace of mind that anything broken in your home while the contractor is working there or any accidents as a result of the remodeling or building job will be covered, it will also show that the builder is responsible.  Reference letters from vendors show that your contractor is reputable and pays his bills on time.  The letters also confirm that he is actually installing the materials bought from that vendor and not a cheaper grade material.  The business license will show you the contractor’s history.  Make sure they’ve been working under the same name for at least five years – some contractors continually change names to avoid past customer complaints or complications.

If the custom remodeler can’t or won’t share these documents with you, beware. They are simple to obtain and are an indication of your contractor’s honesty and business practices.