Here at Integrity Home Pro, we have always been upfront about the problems in the home improvement industry. A lot of contracting companies have, unfortunately, developed bad reputations—reputations that are often fully warranted. Many homeowners have had bad experiences with shoddy or dishonest contractors; they distrust contractors in general, and we don’t blame them. We try to be different—a company that’s truly built on trustworthiness and integrity. Part of that means helping homeowners protect themselves from scams and rip-offs. And when it comes to working with a contractor or a remodeler, one of the best ways to avoid getting ripped off is to get everything down in writing before the project truly begins. We recommend never entering into an agreement with a contractor or remodeler until you have received a full, detailed, written proposal for the work in question, and reviewed it thoroughly. As you review the contract, though, what exactly should you be looking for? There are several points that should always be encompassed by your remodeling proposal.
Key Elements of a Remodeling Proposal
Homeowners should always look for these items on any proposals furnished by remodelers and contractors:
The scope of the project.
The proposal should obviously specify exactly what the project is—but not just with a simple or generic sentence. “Roof repair” is not sufficient, for example. The proposal should specify that the old roof is being torn down, that used materials are being disposed of properly, and so on. Make sure the proposal gives a pretty good, thorough account of what your project entails.
The materials being used.
The project should specify the materials that are going to be implemented—what’s going to be used for tile, for countertops, for cabinet hardware, for shingles, or whatever else your project includes. Again, specificity is the key to ensuring that you get what you’re expecting and that there are no surprises in the process.
The basic timeline of the project.
This includes a start date and an end date, but it also includes a lot more than that. Your proposal should provide a basic sense of the progress that will be made: How much will be accomplished on each day, or at least when major milestones will be hit.
Any licenses or permits that are needed.
Does your project require permits from local municipalities? Your contractor should be able to tell you the answer to this, and obtain those permits for you—but this is something you’ll want to make sure is spelled out on the proposal itself.
Your proposal will definitely include a price, but a single, lump sum may not be very satisfying. As a homeowner, you have a right to know where every dollar goes, so ask for an item-by-item breakdown of labor, materials, fees, and so forth.
The payment schedule.
Are you expected to pay anything up front? Are you expected to pay the full balance upon project completion? At what point is your payment “overdue,” and what penalties will an overdue payment incur? A good proposal should include all payment information.
Warranties and guaranties.
Hopefully, the contractor will offer some promises to back up both their materials and their workmanship. Whether it’s a manufacturer warranty or the contractor’s own personal pledge, make sure you have it in writing.
The more detailed a proposal is, the more protection you have as a consumer—and the more confident you can feel. Skimpy contracts are sometimes the sign of a disreputable contractor, whereas trustworthy pros will always give you specifics—so watch for them!