Creating a contract or installer checklist isn’t about mistrusting, it’s about ensuring a successful renovation.

– Tom Silva, This Old House

Everyone has heard of the horror stories and terrifying experiences of those who had hired a supposedly well respected contractor or installer for their remodel project only to eventually have everything go terribly wrong and the guy disappear, never to be heard from again. It’s every home owners and renovators scary campfire story – being left with a half finished project that’s going to cost more to fix than the original estimate and their hired contractor is nowhere to be found. We’ve assembled a comprehensive installer checklist that includes everything you should need to know and do before choosing the right contractor for you and your home improvement project.

The Checklist

1. Do Your Research

This needs to be the absolute first thing that you do on your installer checklist when starting a new remodel or renovation project. This means getting referrals from friends, family members, and getting online and reading reviews about local contractors from trusted sites, like Angies List! You should also figure out what kind of contractor or installer you need for the job. Ask people you know more than if they have a contractor or installer to recommend, ask them about the nitty gritty. Did the contractor do a good job? How was his work ethic, communication skills? Did you have any problems with them? If so, how were they handled or resolved?

2. Get a Quote

Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few potential contractors the next step on your installers checklist is to set a budget for your remodel and get some quotes. This is more than just the monetary cost of your project, also think about the time it will take to do, materials, overhead costs; get everything broken down. Kick any lowball offers to the curb – it’s okay to be cheap but not when it comes at the cost of potentially shoddy materials or work.

3. Connect with your Installer

Make sure that you get along with your contractor and that you communicate effectively, meet face to face. After all, these people will be spending quite a bit of time in your home.
Installer Checklist

4. Ask Questions

Ask your installer all sorts of questions, interview them! Ask to see credentials, licenses, insurance, warranties, exclusions, references from past clients and or subcontractors, materials providers, and finance statements – the whole shebang! You want to be sure that your contractor isn’t hiding anything and that he’s in good standing with others.

5. Write up a Contract

This is undoubtedly the most important aspect of hiring a contractor and the most important step on your installer checklist! Once you’ve chosen the best person or company for the job both parties will want to come together and agree on a contract. This should include payment, payment schedule, a time frame for completion, a breakdown of the cost for the work (including materials, profit, labor, overhead, etc.), licenses or permits that need to be secured, and what materials are to be used. Keep copies of receipts and other paperwork pertaining to the job with the contract. Don’t be afraid to include every minute detail – make sure that all of your bases are covered.

6. Set a Payment Schedule.

Most states have limits on what can be paid for upfront in order to avoid many scams. Usually this will consist of an upfront payment (usually 10%) plus three follow up payments of 25% which is to be paid when certain goals or time frames are met in the project. A final payment of 15% is to be given once the job is finished to the homeowners satisfaction.
Installer Checklist

7. Final Walkthrough

Schedule a final walkthrough when the project is completed to be sure that it really is finished and is finished to your satisfaction as the homeowner. If it is, then feel free to send final payment to your installer and enjoy your newly renovated space. If the project isn’t completed to your standards then bring it up – you do not want to pay for a job that you feel isn’t up to par. Just be sure that it’s all within the guidelines of the contract – anything additional will need to be paid for as well as any potential changes to the contract which should also be brought up during the process instead of after the fact.
Remember to keep all of the paperwork as well as copies – that way any changes can be verified so that there isn’t any confusion later down the line.

Avoiding a Scam

No one wants to be scammed for any reason. Some ways that you can spot and stop a scam from getting you is to look for some signs that should send up some red flags that you should be aware of and proceed with caution.
Installer Checklist

  • Unsolicited invitations, in the form of telephone calls or door to door visits.
  • Someone looking to get rid of leftover materials, or willing to give you a big discount, or wanting to do these and use your house as a demo.
  • Lowball offers – this usually means shoddy materials or corner cutting somewhere in their process.
  • Refusal for you to see or lack of any of the following: Bank financial statements, past clients, licenses, permits, credentials, etc.
  • Someone who knows someone you can get financing through.
  • Someone who demands payment in cash.
  • Upfront payments in full or in larger sums (like 50%) – this usually means that they’re in some kind of financial trouble.
  • Someone who rushes or bullies you into making a decision as quickly as possible. For instance “You’re building supports aren’t up to regulation, your house could cave in on you at any second.” seek a second opinion – quickly – just in case your house might actually crumble at any moment.
  • Refusal to sign a contract, or rushing you to sign a contract, especially without letting you read it throughly.
  • Fill in the blank contracts – While these are great for those who don’t necessarily know how to write one or what should be included in a contract. Don’t ever sign one that is still blank, both parties should be present when the contract is being formed.
  • No verified phone number (or one in the number directory) or verifiable address.

Builders Surplus recommends and offers installation through our licensed contractors and sub contractors – that way you’re sure to be getting the best that we can provide on any of our renovation and remodel installation services.

Builders Surplus is a full service remodeling company with locations in Louisville, Kentucky, and Newport, Kentucky, which also serves Cincinnati, Ohio. We specialize in interior design, which comes as a free service to our clients. We sell building supplies ranging from unused surplus, to first quality in stock, to high end custom order and everything in between. We also provide measurement and full installation services. If you have any questions or would like to set up a free design consultation with one of our interior designers, we would encourage you to do so. Happy Remodeling!
Written By: Kat Flaherty