Local newspapers recently reported that the most frequent consumer complaints involve disputes with contractors over remodeling projects. To protect against problems when you remodel, make sure that you deal with a reputable contractor. Ask for references and contact them. Were other people satisfied with the contractor’s work? Get quotes and references from more than one contractor.
Secondly, make sure the contractor is properly licensed. The contractor should show his license number on your contract.
Thirdly, either sign a written agreement or obtain a detailed written description (signed by the contractor) of what will be included in the project and the cost of the project. Review these terms with the contractor so there is no confusion over what will be done and what is included in the price. Also make sure the written agreement or quote describes when and how must be paid. If the project will be billed on an hourly basis, make sure you receive periodic statements detailing the contractor’s time.
Upfront payments should be limited. Compare what other contractors require for upfront payments. The more you pay up front, the greater your risk if the contractor does not complete the project.
If you want extra work, make sure the extra work is described in writing as well as the method for determining the extra costs.
Request a sworn statement before making payments. Review the sworn statement. Are all suppliers and subcontractors listed? Are they being paid by your contractor? If not, you can make checks jointly payable to your contractor and the subcontractor.
If you have problems with the contractor, talk to him. If that doesn’t resolve it, you should consult an attorney knowledgeable about construction projects.
Thankfully, most remodeling projects go relatively smoothly. The above steps will go a longs ways towards avoiding legal issues.