Tips from a Lawyer for Choosing a Remodeler

August 8, 2011

Anyone who has remodeled their home more than once knows that it can be a roll of the dice. While there are many credible remodelers out there who will perform as promised and complete the job on budget, there are some who fall far short of those standards.

I have heard horror stories about this from some of my clients. In one case, a remodeler gutted a large portion of a client’s home and refused to continue on the job unless the client paid twice the amount that was originally agreed upon. I have also heard reports of shoddy workmanship, inflated budgets and, in some cases, remodelers who take a down payment and never show up. While such remodelers are in the minority, as a consumer it is important to take steps that will reduce the likelihood of selecting a bad remodeler.

One of the first steps is to check with Pennsylvania Attorney General’s website to see if the remodeler has registered as required under the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act (the “Act”). The Act requires all persons or business entities that perform home improvement services to register, at which time they receive a registration number. Home remodelers are required to put that number not only on their advertisements, but also on any contracts they enter into with consumers. Thus, if the remodeler you are considering does not have a number or is not including it on their contracts and advertisements, you should be concerned.

The second step would be to check and see if the remodeler you are considering is a member of a local or statewide builders association. Lancaster County is served by the Building Industry Association of Lancaster County. From their website, you can access their membership directory to see if the remodeler you are considering is a member. In addition, their website contains a consumer corner tab that will provide you with other tips on selecting a remodeler. While this is not a guarantee that you will be one hundred percent satisfied with the remodeler you choose, it reduces the likelihood that you will be working with a dubious remodeler.

Another aspect to consider is the contract for services between you and the remodeler. In a previous post, I have written about items that a home improvement contract must and must not include. Deviations from those requirements should be a cause for alarm.

It would also help to get references from friends and family members. You can also ask the respective remodeler for references. However, be sure to follow up with those references to ensure that they are legitimate. Of course, checking with the Better Business Bureau is always a good idea as well.

Again, while these steps will not guarantee that you will be one hundred percent satisfied with the remodeler you choose, they will reduce the likelihood of ending up with a untrustworthy remodeler.