5 On Your Side

Remodeling? Protect your investment with 5 contractor tips

Posted February 20

— Dealing with contractors to remodel your home can be a daunting task.

Recently, some people around the Triangle have had trouble with contracted work not meeting their standards. WRAL's 5 On Your Side has handled calls about attics left undone, bungled backyard remodels and shoddy weather repairs.

So, if you want to take your kitchen, bathroom or backyard to the next level, there are some easy ways to protect yourself when hiring a contractor.

Before you hire a contractor, here are five steps to help protect your investment:

–Get at least three estimates that include everything from repairs to clean-up, and don't just jump at the lowest price. A Consumer Reports survey showed that people who went with the lowest bidder got poorer quality work. On the other hand, though, going with the highest bidder doesn't guarantee great work, either.

–Call at least three references. Ask about job quality, clean-up, if calls returned and whether the job was completed on time and on budget.

Make sure the contractor is insured and licensed. In North Carolina, a license is only required for jobs that cost $30,000 more. While that license doesn't guarantee good work, it does show a certain amount of professionalism and competence.

–Get specifics in writing. Make sure details, such as exactly what will be done, payment schedule and a timetable are written down. Get proof of insurance and verify it so that you're not liable for problems.

–Never pay too much up front. 5 On Your Side recommends paying no more than 10 percent down, followed by more payments as the work is done to your satisfaction.

With a 10 percent down payment, there's often a push for more, but a reputable, financially stable contractor will make it work.

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