Custom Homes
While house hunting in Phoenix, you and your spouse have found the perfect home. It’s well-situated close to a high-rated school district, it’s within a decent commute to your work and it has a nice pool and landscaped backyard that really made a lasting impression. The home will require some remodeling, but it’s not enough to stop you from moving in, and it’s available for immediate occupancy. Find out more in this section about the best ways to find a remodeling contractor, the questions to ask when interviewing a contractor and what to include in the remodeling contract. Also find out which remodeling projects in the Phoenix region provide the best return on investment.

According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) (www.nari.org), the remodeling market is a $275 billion industry and is expected to continue to experience significant growth. It is estimated that more than 1 million homes per year undergo major renovation or remodeling. In Phoenix, there are many professional builders and remodelers to select from, and most are members of the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona (HBACA), an organization of more than 50,000 professionals in the residential construction industry.

The Arizona Registrar of Contractors (ROC) offers a great resource to residents looking for any and all information on construction and home repair. The agency licenses and regulates residential and commercial contractors throughout the state. ROC staff is also in charge of investigating and working to resolve complaints against licensed and unlicensed contractors. For more information, visit the ROC website at www.azroc.gov or call their Phoenix office directly at (602) 542-1525.

CONTRACTOR SELECTION
At this point, you’ve had a chance to review the improvements and additions you’re interested in making to your home. Now, you need to begin the contractor selection process, which is the most important decision in a remodeling project. Nearly half of all projects signed by a remodeling contractor are the result of client referrals. An additional 22 percent of jobs are the result of word-of-mouth referrals. By following these guidelines, you will be better prepared to make an informed decision that best suits your needs.

Employ a home improvement contractor with an established business in your area. Local firms can be checked through references from past customers in your community or through local organizations. Local remodelers are compelled to perform quality work that satisfies their customers so their business will survive. Following are a few suggestions for finding local contractors:
  • The Home Builder Association of Central Arizona (HBACA) website at www.hbaca.org provides a searchable database of member professional builders and remodelers.
  • The Greater Phoenix chapter of the National Association of Remodeling Industry (NARI) www.nari.org/phoenixchapter/. At the website, click on Member List to view the contact information and specialty of each member.
  • The Arizona Registrar of Contractors (www.azroc.gov) allows consumers to click on the Contractor Info & Search tab to search for builders. You may cut your search results by choosing either a residential or commercial builder, selecting a certain builder classification, typing in a city or searching by name.
  • The Better Business Bureau of Central, Northern & Western Arizona website (www.central-northern-western-arizona.bbb.org) offers a convenient way to find information on homeowner complaints filed on a company within the last three years. Consumers can also see if their considered contractor has a BBB Accredited business, which is assessed on 16 factors.

When you meet with a potential contractor, ask for the following items:
  • Current copy of his license (Call or visit the comptroller’s website to verify compliance with the law)
  • Copy of the remodeling contractor’s certification of insurance for the name of his or her insurance agency to verify coverage (Most states require a contractor to carry workers compensation, property damage and personal liability insurance. Make sure the contractor’s insurance coverage meets all the minimum requirements.)

When you solicit bids from several different home-improvement contractors, make sure they are bidding on the same scope and quality of work. Discuss variations in bids and beware of any bid that is substantially lower than the others.

QUESTIONS TO ASK POTENTIAL CONTRACTORS
Timing and money are the most common questions a home-improvement contractor hears, but during an interview with homeowners when they should be asking about credentials and verifying business practices, what is often heard is, “When can you start? When will it be finished? How much will it cost?”

These simply aren’t enough. If you are going to have a successful remodeling project, you need to learn the right questions to ask and how to ask them.

According to NARI, these simply aren’t enough. Yes, timing may be “everything” in comedy, but that certainly isn’t the case when it comes to remodeling. If you are going to have a successful remodeling project, you need to learn the right questions to ask and how to ask them. NARI members offer a list of questions that you should ask:
  • How long have you been in business?
  • Who will be assigned as project supervisor for the job?
  • Who will be working on the project? Are they employees or subcontractors?
  • Does your company carry workers compensation and liability insurance? (Always verify this information by calling the agency. A copy of an insurance certificate does not let you know if the policy is still current. Even if the certificate has an expiration date, you cannot tell if the insurance has been canceled by either party.)
  • What is your approach to a project such as this?
  • How many similar projects have you completed in the past year?
  • Can you provide a list of references from those projects?
  • Can you provide a list of business referrals or suppliers?
  • What percentage of your business is repeat or by referral?
  • Are you a member of a national trade association?
  • Have you or your employees been certified in remodeling or had any special training or education, such as earning a Certified Remodeler (CR), Certified Remodeler Specialist (CRS), Certified Lead Carpenter (CLC) or Certified Kitchen & Bath Remodeler (CKBR) designation?

It’s also important to realize that sometimes it’s not the answers you get that are significant, but what you don’t get. Asking the right questions is not enough. You need to pay attention to your instincts and to what information is missing.

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