Ask your remodeling contractor if their company is a member of NARI.
NARI stands for National Association of the Remodeling Industry and is the only professional association dedicated solely to the remodeling industry.
What is NARI?
The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) is the only independent national association dedicated solely to the remodeling industry. Austin NARI’s goal is to help homeowners find the right professional partner to do their remodeling. Austin NARI wants each homeowner to get the maximum value and enjoyment for the dollars they invest in their remodeling. Ask your remodeling contractor if their company is a member of Austin NARI.
Why should I choose a NARI member?
NARI Members meet the association’s stringent criteria for experience. NARI members also pledge a commitment to high standards of practice and NARI’s Code of Ethics.
How many estimates should I get for a remodeling project?
You can go about the process in different ways. Conventional wisdom dictates three estimates for any remodeling work you are going to have done. However, if a home improvement contractor comes highly recommended by a trusted source, and you have met and talked with the contractor and feel comfortable working with him or her, getting additional estimates may not be necessary.
Should I plan more money than the contract price?
Additional work or a change in the project requested by the remodeling homeowner usually require a contract price change. Planning for the unforeseen is wise, though, so putting aside an extra 10% over the contract price makes for a less stressful remodel.
What can I expect to do while a remodeling project is being done in my home?
Most importantly, keep the lines of communication open between you and the remodeling contractor and the work crew. Ask questions. Let them know what your family schedule is and whether you have pets confined somewhere. It’s important to keep the work areas off limits to children and pets for their safety; however, you may have a little extra dust and dirt in your house, so keeping the work area off limits will avoid them tracking the dust to other parts of the house.
While I’m interviewing remodeling contractors, what questions should I ask? How long have you been in business?
Look for a company with an established business history in your community. Surviving in any business in today’s competitive marketplace is a difficult task. Most successful contractors are proud of their history in the industry.
Who will be assigned as project supervisor for the job?
Also ask whom you should contact if the supervisor is not available. Get exact names and contact phone numbers for all persons who will be involved in the project.
What is the time frame for starting the project?
Now is the time to ask questions about work schedules. You should ask: What is your estimate for completion? How early will your crew normally begin work? When will they normally quit for the day? Will I be contacted about delays or changes in the schedule? By whom?
What is your approach to a project of this scope?
This will give you an idea of how the contractor works and what to expect during the project. Listen carefully to the answer. This is one of the big indicators of the company’s work ethic.
How do you operate? In other words, how is your firm organized?
Do you have employees or do you hire subcontractors? If you do have employees, what are their job descriptions? Do you use a project supervisor or lead carpenter to oversee the project? Other firms will have additional positions. You should know what parts of your project will be handled by staff, and which will be contracted out to independent contractors.
Is your company a full service or specialty firm?
If you are planning a small project, say replacing the bathroom plumbing, you may be better off hiring a specialty plumbing firm or a bathroom remodeler. However, if your project involves multiple changes, entire rooms or additions, you should consult a full service or design-build firm.
Do you have design services available?
If you are considering a large or involved project, you will need design services. If the contractor does not have design-build capabilities, you should consider hiring an architect. Depending on the size and scope of the project, you may need an architect or structural engineer.
Does your company carry liability insurance?
Ask for copies of the insurance certificates to verify coverage.
Are any of your company’s employees certified?
Trade certifications are good indicators of dedication, professionalism and knowledge of the industry. Remodelers are required to meet certain industry criteria to maintain their certifications. NARI offers six designations: Certified Remodeler (CR), Certified Remodeler Specialist (CRS), Certified Remodeler Associate (CRA), Certified Kitchen & Bath Remodeler (CKBR), Certified Lead Carpenter (CLC), and Certified Remodeling Carpenter (CRC).
May I have a list of references for projects you have completed which are similar to mine?
The contractor should be able to supply you with a minimum of three references, including names, telephone numbers and addresses. As a follow up to this question, ask how long ago the project was completed and if the contractor can arrange a visit to see the finished job. You should also ask for professional references from suppliers, financial institutions, or subcontractors to verify sound business practices.
What percentage of your business is repeat or referral business?
This will give you a good indication about the company’s customer satisfaction. According to research conducted by NARI, most remodeling businesses attribute over 50% of their annual volume to customer referrals; some even claim up to 90% or more of their total annual sales.
How many projects like mine have you completed in the past 12 months?
This will help you determine the contractor’s familiarity with your type of project. You should confirm that a good portion of those completed projects were similar to the type of project you are proposing.
Will we need a permit for this project?
Failure to obtain the necessary permits or to arrange obligatory inspections can be illegal. In some cases, if a project violates a zoning law or some other regulations, it may even have to be demolished if there is no way to comply with the law. A qualified remodeling contractor will be conscious of the permit process, and ensure that all permits have been obtained before initiating any work.
May I have a list of your suppliers?
You may want to add calling the contractor’s suppliers to your list of follow up actions. This will help protect you from mechanics liens for nonpayment by the contractor. Suppliers also can be a source to establish credit history for the company.
The Most Important Question
Of the many questions you can ask during an interview, the most important question is one you must ask yourself: “Do I feel comfortable with and trust the person I am about to hire?”
Your answer to that last question should make the hiring decision a little easier.