Another factor in finding a quality remodeler is asking for their certifications. The National Association of Home Builders sponsors the certified graduate remodeler (CGR) certification, and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry grants Certified Remodeler (CR) certifications.
If you find friends who had a bad experience with a remodeler, they will most likely tell you they wish they had taken more precautions with the contract. This important document can be your salvation or your ruin, so consider it carefully. It should include a detailed description of all the work to be done, as well as the pay schedule. Some experts recommend not signing the standard contract the remodeler gives you, but rather adapting a sample contract from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
Also, talk with the remodeler ahead of time to work out a pay schedule that you both can agree on. Experts say to avoid paying too much too early in case the contractor skips town or you're simply unsatisfied with the work. Consider paying 10 percent of the costs after each 10 percent of the work is done. If the contractor lacks funds for materials, purchase them yourself or go with the contractor to purchase them together [source: Howard].
Make sure the remodeler has adequate insurance and licensing for your project. Some states require licenses for such work. Ask if he has workers' compensation insurance and a liability policy. If he doesn't have adequate insurance, make sure that you have enough from your homeowner's insurance policy. Don't just trust the documentation given to you, but call to confirm the term of coverage for the insurance and check that your remodeler's license is current.
Also ask your remodeler for lien releases. Sometimes, homeowners will pay a contractor to purchase materials, but the contractor pockets the money. In this case, suppliers and subcontractors can come after the homeowner for the payment again. When you get suppliers and subcontractors to sign lien releases, you can protect yourself by making sure they won't place a lien against your home for payment.
Obviously, there's a lot to consider in a remodeling project. But when you invest some time into these precautions, you assure yourself peace of mind and avoid even worse problems later. For lots more information on home remodeling, see the links on the next page.