Minimize Your Risk When Upgrading Your Home

Real Estate Agent with Classic Realty Realtor

Whether it is new windows, a garage door or perhaps adding on a room or two, it is always a good thing when upgrading your house, to have an understanding of what you should be able to expect from your contractor. For example: What kinds of things should you ask the contractor about, or perhaps even have in writing?

Here are some suggestions:

Ask your contractor, "Are you licensed? Follow up this question by going to your state governmental site and verify what you have been told. In Virginia you can verify a license by going to the: Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation
2) Make sure your contractor has adequate insurance. I was reading the other day that the best way to handle this is to have the contractor’s insurance company send you proof of coverage. WHY DO THIS? What if there is an accident on your property, who will pay? To avoid a potential lawsuit, secure proof of the contractor’s insurance!
3) Inquire about references. Don’t accept just any three names but ask for references pertaining to the last three jobs he/she performed. Then verify and verify and verify some more!!!
4) Be sure to get any and ALL verbal agreements in writing. In other words, YOU NEED A CONTRACT! Anything you are verbally told that is important to you should be in the CONTRACT. This includes price, time the project will begin and end and more.
5) Have a frank discussion about how you will pay. Specifically, what is the payment or billing policy? Will you be required to pay something upfront? If there is such a requirement, how much is it?
6) If required, make sure the contractor secures the proper permits. It should be in the contract that you want the contractor to secure the permits. Although permits cost money, the inspection process is meant to protect you from poor workmanship and to make sure that everything is being built to code. Additionally, you won’t have a hassle over not having secured a permit, when one day you decide to list your house "For Sale". Everything will have been done properly.

By the way, an experienced Realtor®, when he/she is taking your listing will always ask about improvements, permits, liens, etc in reference to your house. Better to deal up front with any issue than to be tripped up in the middle of a transaction, when selling your property; and the contract as a result, falls apart.

In conclusion: Following these simple suggestions will help minimize your risk when upgrading your home. These suggestions should go a long ways in keeping you out of trouble legally, financially and with the time frame involved in completing your project. One more thing: If your project is a major project, consulting with an attorney is advised.

Comments (5)

Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Suggested! This is a great post and something everyone needs to know. No one should put their life at risk by hiring the wrong contractor. I knew a woman who was killed by inviting the wrong contractor into her home.

Thank you David for this public service message.

Sep 06, 2013 06:04 AM
Yolanda Cordova-Gilbert
Richmond, TX


 Great information and I too have suggested! I hope you have  a great weekend!

Sep 06, 2013 07:50 AM
Michelle Gibson
Hansen Real Estate Group Inc. - Wellington, FL

David - Great advice! Even when I'm referred to someone I still do additional research on them.

Sep 06, 2013 11:01 PM
Shannon Milligan, Richmond VA Real Estate Agent/Associate Broker
RVA Home Team - Richmond, VA
RVA Home Team - Winning with Integrity.

This is a great list of questions to speak with your contractor about to minimize your risk when upgrading your home. Permits are a BIG one that many do not think to ask!

Sep 06, 2013 11:36 PM
Joe Petrowsky
Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709 - Manchester, CT
Your Mortgage Consultant for Life

Lots of great advice, it is always so surprising how little effort is made to investigate contractors before giving them money.

Make it a great weekend!

Sep 07, 2013 02:02 AM