If you have home repair or renovations that need to be done, you need to contact several different home improvement companies to find the best one to do your job. They should each offer a free estimate, but you will need to learn more than just the price. You also need to investigate the home improvement companies themselves, such as their record with the Better Business Bureau, how long they have been in business, and whether they have insurance against damage to your property or your neighbor’s as well as worker’s compensation for their employees.
Try to always deal with locally based companies. When there are storms and many homes are damaged, such as by hail or high winds, many “gypsy” or “vagabond” contractors move into the area temporarily. These home improvement companies may offer excellent rates, but there is usually no way to check their record or to reach them if the repair is sub-standard. For example, many of these transient home improvement companies may replace your shingles in what looks like a professional manner. Two months later, when a heavy rain arrives, your roof may leak. By then, however, these home improvement companies have moved on to greener pastures with your money.
When you get cost estimates from the different companies, also ask them to provide firm completion dates. There have been many instances of home improvement companies starting a project that should be finished in a week and then moving to another, better paying project before completion. The initial job may remain in limbo for weeks or even months before the contractor and crew return to finish it. You also need to get commitments from companies on what days and hours they will need access to your house. If you like to sleep in a bit on Saturdays, for instance, you might want to request that they not begin at 7 am on that one day.
If you can possibly avoid it, do not pay home improvement companies the full project amount in advance. Once they have received all the money they will get from you, there is little incentive for them to have completing your job a priority. It is customary for some home improvement companies to ask for a down payment or partial payments at pre-determined stages. Make sure these benchmark payments are based on completion levels and not time increments. For example, if the job involves rebuilding the roof deck and installing shingles, you could make one of the benchmarks contingent on the decking and felt installation being completed.
Ask friends or relatives to recommend home improvement companies they have used with good results as well as any they had unsatisfactory experiences with. If you notice projects in your neighborhood, ask the homeowners about the home improvement companies involved, especially if the results look nice, and how satisfied they were with the work. Make sure any company you select are bonded, and that they bond or at least perform background checks on their employees. You should also place any valuables, such as jewelry, out of sight while workmen are in your home.