The other day the doorbell rang and at my door was a well-dressed young man. He told me he was with a home improvement company and they were working in my neighborhood giving people bids for home improvement projects. Before he could go through his menu of services, I said no thanks. Whether I was interested in any home improvement isn’t the issue. The issue is would I trust just anyone working on a project in my home. The answer is no.
It is that time of year when many of us are doing home improvement projects. Whether it’s general repairs due to damage done this winter or making major upgrades in your home, either way, you cannot let just anyone walk into your home. It is also that time of year when home improvement companies come out of the woodwork offering to do all sorts of work on your home. It is important that you do not let yourself get taken advantage of by fast-talking salespeople or companies that are just out to make a fast buck. They are out there and unfortunately, too many of us are easy prey. Therefore, before you do any sort of home improvement projects, here are some basic rules to protect yourself:
- Be careful who you receive a bid from. As far as I’m concerned, you should only allow yourself to receive a bid from a contractor you’ve already vetted. Just because someone knocks on your door doesn’t mean you should allow them to give you a bid. By only receiving bids from companies that you’ve already determined were qualified to do the job and honorable, it makes it easier to review the bids. Most people receive bids from a variety of companies and then tend to focus on the price as the determining issue. Although price is important, before you even get to the price you want to make sure you’re dealing with an honorable company.
Whether it’s talking to family and friends, using the internet or going through the Better Business Bureau, it is important that you only deal with quality companies and not companies that are going to be here today and gone tomorrow.
- In most home improvement projects there is going to be a contract involved. Don’t assume the contracts are standard and that you don’t have to read them. The reason why you sign a contract is because it is legally binding and it is important. Take time to read the contract and make sure you understand its terms before you sign it. In addition, don’t assume just because something is printed it can’t be changed. Just about all terms of a contract are subject to negotiation. In addition, particularly for those who are doing major home improvement work, if you don’t understand the contract, hire an attorney who can interpret it for you. It is important that you go into the contract with your eyes wide open and understanding the terms.
In regard to the terms of the contract, one thing I generally want in the agreement is a time frame for the project to be completed and if it is not completed on time, there should be some sort of penalty.
- When you do home improvement projects, don’t get oversold. Don’t make the assumption that just because you’re putting in a new bathroom means that your house will automatically increase in value; it just doesn’t work that way. As far as I’m concerned, you do home improvement projects because they will increase the quality of your life. After all, when you take a step back and think about it, isn’t that what’s important?
Doing a home improvement project can definitely increase the quality of your life. However, we all know stories where someone’s home improvement project turned into a nightmare. The time you spend upfront can save you hours and hours of frustration and aggravation.