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Choosing a Home Remodeling Specialist

by Mike Dodd, Home Remodeling Expert
June 18, 2014

Question: There are so many home remodeling specialists out there. How do I go about choosing the right person?

Answer: Identifying a home remodeling specialist is not as difficult as one might think.  Trade association participation is a great way to qualify if an individual or organization supports the industry in which they work.

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) is the only professional trade association that represents remodelers. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) is much larger and typically represents the single family home builders through their local Home Builders Association (HBA) chapters across the country. There is a segment of the local HBA chapters known as the Remodelers Council, but most professional remodelers feel as though NAHB serves the building community far more than it does remodeling.

That dynamic is changing nationally, however, due to the dollars reprresented by remodeling verses the new construction marketplace.  The numbers were heavily skewed for years in favor of new construction, but the Great Recession changed attitudes with respect to people's feelings about investing in their existing homes and the pendulum has swung in favor of that paradigm.

Many consumers use the internet to conduct research and vet different companies.  Angie's List has become popular as a clearinghouse for consumers to utilize in determining who is reliable. especially as it relates to individuals or companies in the trades. Since Angie's List is a publicly traded company and relies on advertising dollars from the people who they recommend, many professionals look upon that vehicle as being disingenuous. 

Perhaps an alternative resource is an old reliable standby in the business community....the Better Business Bureau.  They have always been very impartial and will actually work to mediate disputes in an effort to achieve a positive outcome for both the consumer and the professional.  

Common sense should obviously play a significant role in determining who is qualified.  The length of time in business and having a physical place of business verses using a post office mailing box are a couple of key indicators. Something like 90% (or more?) of businesses in the trades don't survive the five year mark.  An absolute given for any individual or company in the industry is that they carry both general public liability and workers compensation insurance coverage in the event that something unforeseen should happen in your home. 

Any entity that demands full payment up front, or even a significant sum, should be a huge red flag.  As the saying goes, "you get what you pay for", and the remodeling industry probably embodies that philosophy more than any other.  Finding three qualified bidders and soliciting written proposals from them for your project is not unreasonable and provides the consumer with an opportunity to balance the scale.

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Mike Dodd is the founder and President of Lifewise Renovations, that combines home remodeling project management with the expertise of health care professionals, to make it possible live safely and comfortably at home regardless of age or physical ability. As a member of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), Mike holds the Certified Aging In Place Specialist (CAPS) designation.

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