Why does the word “beware” always have a negative connotation of terror or fear when, in reality, it simply means to “be aware”? In this fast-paced world in which we all live, we could all be more aware. We tend to be ready, fire, aim without even realizing it’s happening.
When choosing who will remodel your home, do that room addition, update your kitchen or bathroom, there is no room for guess work. Research is your friend. Repeat that. Research is your friend. Do your homework.
In the Shreveport/Bossier City/Benton area, you have an assortment of remodeling contractors from whom to choose. While conducting your research, be aware of seven questions you need to ask when deciding who you are going to invite into your home for weeks, maybe months at a time.
Are They Licensed?
The very first question you should always ask a potential contractor is if they have the proper license to do the work in your home. Proper licensing is required by Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors (LSLBC) and is one of the most Important areas when deciding what contractor you are going to hire.
If the residential remodeling project exceeds $7,500, but does not exceed $75,000, a Home Improvement License must be issued. If the residential remodeling project is equal to or exceeds $75,000, the contractor must have a Residential Contractor’s License. In either instance, LSLBC must approve the license and all renewals. Do not be afraid to ask to see their license or you can look up their name and business name at the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors website www. lslbc.louisiana.gov.
If the “contractor” states they do not have a license, this is a huge red flag and should be a hard pass. This also means they don’t have the next area of importance:
Are They Insured?
Maintaining General Liability and Workers’ Compensation Insurances are vitally important for a reputable remodeling contractor. In order to obtain your remodeling license, you must have these insurances first.
General liability insurance is required minimum coverage requirement in the State of Louisiana for a Residential Contractor is $100,000. In addition to general liability insurance, the remodeling contractor must also carry workers’ compensation coverage. Both types of insurances must be continuously maintained with no lapse in coverage.
General Liability insurance will protect you, the homeowner, if the contractor causes any damage to your home. A “contractor” who does not have Worker’s Compensation insurance leaves you at risk of paying an injured worker’s medical bill if they get hurt at your home. Great contractors have both insurances to cover the homeowner, themselves and their employees. Another question you need to ask, are their subcontractors insured as well? Make sure everyone that steps foot on your property has the necessary insurance. This is your ultimate peace of mind.
Do They Pull Permits and Schedule Inspections?
Obtaining proper permits cannot be stressed enough! This is a step some contractors skip. Be aware of any who do.
A permit is always required when a residence or structure is being altered, changed or repaired. In Caddo Parish, permits are required for basically everything except painting or flooring. In Bossier Parish, the permit office has the added stipulation that the remodeling contractor must show proof he or she is registered with LSLBC.
You, the homeowner, can even call the city permitting office to ensure permits have been pulled. After the permit is pulled for a kitchen or bathroom remodel or an addition, the contractor must alert the inspector when they are ready for the inspections during and after the construction. Your projects should pass with flying colors if you chose a great contractor. This is a safety net for you, the homeowner, and one that should never be skipped.
How Long Have They Been in Business?
Verifying the remodeling company’s years in business is another factor to consider when searching for a reputable remodeling contractor. There is something to be said for start-up companies, but nothing takes the place of longevity.
Companies with history in the local areas are the ones with repeat clients, ones with clients who refer their friends, and ones with subcontractors who have become part of the family. That kind of trust does not happen overnight; it takes time.
How Will They Protect the Rest of Your Home?
If your remodeling focus is a kitchen or a bathroom, how will the renovation team protect the rest of your home? Will they cover your wood floors before they begin construction? Will they install barriers or use air scrubbers to limit dust and debris from entering other rooms in your home? Will they clean after the project has ended? A great contractor will go over their cleaning process with you before construction begins.
Can You Talk to Past Clients?
Checking references should always be part of the reputable remodeling contractor research process. You would not hire an employee without checking past employment references, so why would you hire a remodeling contractor for your home without checking in with their past clients? A great remodeling contractor will be happy to share past customers phones numbers with you so you can ask how their experience was working with them.
Can You See Past Projects?
The company’s website and social media platforms should have actual pictures posted from past projects. These are opportunities to highlight their work, to showcase their talents and craftsmanship. You should ask yourself “why?” if the website has stock photos or no pictures at all. If subcontractors are listed on the website, those contacts are excellent sources of information as well. While on a project, these men and women work with the remodeling contractor daily. They can provide insight regarding work ethic and the person behind the brand.
Being aware of the above areas of importance during your search for a reputable remodeling contractor and asking these specific questions will help keep you on track and allow you to eliminate the individuals who may not have all the necessary components.
If your research does not produce the answers you want or need, you can always pick up the phone. Bottom line… Do your research and then listen to your gut. It is never wrong