Below are some tips and resources to help you with you get started and ensure that your renovation or remodeling project is a success. Please contact us if you have further questions that we may be able to answer for you.
- BUILD EQUITY: Search real estate records and property tax information for your home.
- CHOOSING THE BEST GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Make sure that you choose the best General Contractor for your remodeling or renovation project.
- HOW TO LIVE THROUGH THE CONSTRUCTION PROCESS: Ensure that your upcoming renovation or remodeling process is as pleasant as possible.
- COMPARING APPLES TO APPLES: Compare several General Contractors with this helpful worksheet and resource.
- FAQ: Read the frequently asked questions.
This link will take you to the New HanoverCounty Government web site. If you live in New Hanover County, you can use this link to search real estate records and property tax information for your home. Included are things such as the deed date, the price you paid for your home, the current assessed value, a building sketch, photographs and much more. If you want to get all of this information for the other homes in your area, all you have to do is click on the "Sales" link.
Choosing the best general contractor can be a difficult process. Wilmington Builders is happy to provide the following information to help make it easier. First, the following are warning signs that the general contractor you are interviewing may not be the best choice.
- You can’t verify the name, address or telephone number of the general contractor/company.
- You can’t verify the general contracting license of the contactor/company.
- The estimator tries to pressure you into singing a contract right away, before providing you with a professional estimate.
- Special low rates and discounts are offered only if you sign today.
- References and examples of previous work are not available.
- The contractor cannot provide proof of insurance.
- You are asked to pay more than half of the full cost up front.
- You are unable to find any type of advertising or credentials for the general contractor.
- The general contractor listens poorly and gives vague answers to questions.
- The contractor shows interest only in the project, not what your ideas and concerns are.
- The contractor only offers one phone number to reach him/her.
These “red flags” can help you decide on the right general contractor for your project. Remember to compare apples to apples, not apples to lemons. Wilmington Builders, Inc. is licensed as a general contractor by the state of North Carolina and carries both liability and workers compensation insurance coverage. Our professional estimators will be happy to go over all of the above-mentioned issues on the first visit to your home.
Once you have chosen the right general contractor to complete your home improvement project there are some things you can do to help the process be as pleasant as possible. When the project starts, your project manager and others working at your home become part of your daily life. Communication is the most important factor. Ask as many questions as you need to. Here are some other ways to ensure a pleasant experience:
- Understand your contract and scope of work. Have the contractor explain what work will be done so you’ll know the time needed for what’s involved and so there are no surprises regarding what will and won’t be completed. Many items and ideas are discussed during the planning phases but you must make sure what you want ends up in the written contract, especially when revisions are made with large projects. Remember, in considering your budget, you can’t expect more work or better quality than what you are willing to pay for.
- Plan adequate storage space and remove unnecessary items from the work area. It will be necessary to have room for material and equipment. Also, when workers arive, they need to have access to the space without obstructions. Protect your personal items by putting them in storage or out of the work area.
- Consider what is involved in delivering, shipping, and ordering materials and making the best use of the tradesperson’s time and skill. Remember, your contractor wants to move forward as quickly as you, he/she doesn’t get paid until the work is complete. Allow a margin of human error. Check that the materials are correct when they do arrive.
- Try to stay out of the construction area and keep it clear of pets, children or any item that doesn’t need to be there. This is important for safety and for maintaining construction schedules.
- Protect your belongings. Dust will migrate through your home no matter how much protection is installed. Store clothing and other items to protect them.
- Maintain positive relationships with your contractor and workers. A level of respect should be maintained between the homeowner, contractor and workers. Always work with your contractor to find the best solution to a problem or concern. Remember that workers are simply following orders and plans, always discuss issues with your project manager.
- Plan ahead in all aspects. Choose appliances and fixtures before they are needed to avoid making a hasty decision. Know your budget and how much you can afford to pay. Figuring out your debt to income ratio is a good way to decide if you can afford the additional monthly payment if financing is the option you choose. Also, It’s a good idea to allow 10-20 percent of your budget for items you may decide to add during the project. Plan for times when your electricity and/or water may not be available due to work on the project.
- Most Importantly, Expect the unexpected! No one can prepare you for all the unforeseen incidents that can cause delays such as late deliveries, out of stock items, incorrect parts, oversights, rain, change orders, etc. You can never be sure of what may be discovered once the demo is started. Also, It is important to understand that construction happens in phases. Separate crews install framing, siding, insulation, masonry, finish carpentry, roofing, etc. The schedule is complicated and most likely, there will be some delays. A good general contractor will never sacrifice quality to maintain a schedule.
When you get estimates for your home improvement project, don’t be surprised to see that the costs for each estimate are very different. This is when it is important to make sure you are comparing apples to apples not apples to lemons. You can only compare estimates if they are for comparable work, completing the same job and using the same quality materials. The lowest estimate may not be the best choice and may end up costing you more in the long run when you have to add in items that you thought were already included. It’s a good idea not to show an estimate to a contractor in hope that he/she will come in lower. Though the contractor may come in at a lower price to get the work, he/she may also be cutting corners and quality in order to maintain profit.
It’s best to start by comparing the contractors, not the contracts. Make sure you are dealing with a reputable company who is licensed, insured and easily accessible. Also, do you like the contractor and will he be pleasant to deal with? If you are comfortable with the contractor then begin comparing contracts. Did you get a professional looking contract and was it explained clearly? Can you understand the costs and the payment process? Is the work on each contract comparable and is it clear what work will be completed? For help in comparing contractors, download the PDF file Apples to Apples Vs. Apples to Lemons. Remember, you get what you pay for!
Q: Should I investigate financial security and location?
A: Most small businesses fail to survive more than 2 years, leaving the homeowner with no recourse for warranty claims. An established commercial site is a strong indication of the financial stability of the contractor and provides a measure of security to locate the company at any time during the warranty period.
Q: What should consumers consider when choosing a contractor for an upcoming project?
A: Demand and verify a certificate of workers comp and liability insurance. Demand and verify a NC General Contractors License. Inquire and verify length of time in business and always call the Better Business Bureau for a report on the company's performance record.
Q: Why request a written warranty?
A: A warranty is only as strong as the company that backs it. Many contractors that offer a 5-year warranty (or longer) have not been in business under the same name for even half that long. Insist that all prospective contractors provide a copy of their written warranty and verify, using their reference list, how long they have been in business under their current name.
Q: Why request and verify insurance information?
A: An uninsured contractor leaves little recourse for damages he may cause to your home or property when performing the work. Worse, he or his employees may sue you for compensation if injured while working on your property. Protect yourself. Insist upon submittal of copies of insurance certificates from all prospective contractors and call the underwriter to verify that the policies are current.
Q: What should I look for in a list of references?
A: Many contractors provide 3 references upon request. While this may be a prudent number of references to contact, even a mediocre contractor can likely provide three references for his work. Ask for a substantial list that includes dates so that you can verify both recent performances as well as lasting job satisfaction.