CHOOSING A CONTRACTOR WISELY

Choosing a contractor can be a time consuming and stressful task.  I have heard home improvement horror stories that you would not believe.  Such stories include, extremely over priced jobs with poor results, money that was paid for jobs never started, and jobs that were inexpensive and completed quickly with very poor workmanship.  I've come up with this tips page to prevent you from getting taken advantage of by unlicensed, unskilled and dishonest people and contracting companies.

The most important part of this job is protecting your family and your home; that is why it is so "CRITICAL" to hire the right company.  A lot of people do not dig deep enough into their choice of the remodeling company.  It goes way beyond just the price of the job.  I know our time is so limited today, but this is so very important.  Please take the time to read and study the information below to help you choose wisely on this very important subject of who to choose to do your home remodeling project.

If I am not the chosen contractor for your project, my goal is still for people not to be victimized by dishonest and untrustworthy contractors.

~As of July 1, 2009, PA state law requires any person or persons doing remodeling, home improvements or repairs on homes or businesses, to have a license (HIC) registration number; this number is given after an 11 point application is submitted and approved.  Although this is a less than what us professionals pushed for (background checks also an exam of knowledge of the trade) it is a start.

~As of July 1, 2009, you can check on the remodeler's HIC number by simply call 1-888-520-6680 or by clicking on www.attorneygeneral.gov/hiccon.aspx?id=4502 

**Jaworski Remodeling's HIC# is 4299 or PA4299

~As of April 22, 2010, PA state law also requires remodelers, contractors, painters and even the basic handy man to have an EPA approved certified lead renovators license.  This is a class and test that requires the above mentioned to test for Lead and know proper procedures of lead conditions exist in your home.  This is a serious health risk especially for children, that is why it is important to have a licensed lead renovator... it is a must.

~If the remodeler is disturbing more than 6 square feet of interior painted surface or 20 square feet of exterior surface and the home was built in 1978 or before, the Law states that each painted surface must be field tested for lead contamination.  Remember this is your family's health at risk here!  The contractor/remodeler can also face fines of $37,500 per day!  Please visit E.P.A at www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovation.htm

!!Always do a background check on the person working in your home!!

**If required make sure a building permit it obtained through B.B.I before any work is started**

1.  Don't always choose the least expensive bid.  I know in this day and age that we are all looking for bargains but the saying goes "you get what you pay for" holds up very well in this business.  The cheapest is definately not always the best; in fact it is most likely the worst.  Here are a couple reasons why.  Being in business the legal and correst way is costly.  Several reasons would be; different insurances, permits, certificates and licensing, quality tools and materials.

~They use cheaper and/or left over materials that do not hold up over time.

~Corners are cut not giving you the high quality work you thought you were getting.

I often get calls to fix other company's work and all customers say the same thing, "I wish I had done more research on choosing a contractor.

A few reasons why other companies may be less expensive; no property damage liability insurance coverage or very low limit, no personal injury insurance, they don't hold the proper licensing, or they don't invest in proper/quality tools and equipment.

2.  Ask for at least 3 references.  Make sure you have at least a name and phone number so you can contact his/her customers directly.  It would be a great idea to make an arrangement to check out the job yourself.  Anyone that is happy with the work will gladly show it off.  I have several customers that will allow prospective customers of mine to come into their homes to see our remodeling job completed.

3.  Is the contractor trustworthy?  The last thing you want is someone you're not sure of in your home and around your family, so be sharp once again.  Call customers; that is where all the answers to your questions are.  Do not be afraid to ask too many questions.  Remember, they were once in your shoes and had to pick a contractor also.  Reputable contractors have discussed arrangements with their customers to be used for references.  They expect calls from possible customers looking for how the  contractor performed.

4.  Ask for a contract and read it carefully.  Make sure the contract includes at least the following: 

-Phone numbers of the business

-The companies HIC & lead license numbers

-Address, both yours and the companies

-Your name 

-Exactly what the job consists of and who is paying for what items

-Start date and estimated finish date

-The total price for the job

-How payments should be distributed.  PA state law requires 1/3 down maximum, another payment of 1/3 after the work is started and as long as the customer is satisfied with the work the remaining balance is due upon the finishing day of the job

5.  An insured contractor is a must!  A lot of home remodeling/home improvement companies have bare minimum insurance coverage of $25,000, which in PA is legal.  This amount would not cover much if an accident took place in your home.  Make sure the person you choose has adequate liability insurance.  Do not take their word for it.  Ask for proof.  Contracting insurance companies will fax/email or mail a cover page that has the contractors name, insurance company contact info to verify that the contractor is insured and for how much.  Unfortunately, accidents do happen.  Assume the worst.  Will the company's insurance be able to cover the worst damage possible?

6.  Be aware of companies offering discounts for using them.  For example "Save hundreds of dollars" on roofing, windows etc. or "Best prices" on certain services.  These are big sales gimmicks.  Those sayings just get them in your door and they say that to make you think you're getting a great deal.  You're typically getting low grade material or left over material from a perevious job.  Let's be honest, a contractor that is an expert craftsman and has a great reputation does not need to be deceiving or have any sales gimmicks.  Once again you get what you pay for!  

7.  Most reputable home remodeling/repair businesses would not find it necessary to solicit business by going door to door, most of the time these people do not have insurances and licensing.  Reputable companies that are professional craftsmen will have some kind of waiting period before they can begin your project.

8.  Check complaint records from the Better Business Bureau online at www.westernpennsylvania.bbb.org or call them at 412-456-2700.