8 Questions you should ask your Remodeling Contractor
1. Request from the contractor their TRCC (Texas Residential Construction Commission) Remodeler number. Elite TRCC registration number is 19338.
Why is this important to you the Homeowner: Effective September 2002, it was a Texas State law that all Builders/Remodelers register with the State. More importantly, they are required to register all jobs over $10k in size. Texas did this to provide oversight to the construction industry based on all the complaints from homeowners about unethical builder/remodelers. So, if your Remodeler did not register with the TRCC, then first off, he was breaking the law and secondly, he was attempting to skirt the Consumer Protection laws that the TRCC had implemented. Now here is the sad news for us and you the Homeowner. The State Legislature decided to do away with the TRCC this year effective September 1, 2009. This decision was pressed for by Litigation Attorney’s Association. As hard as our Home Builders Association and the Texas Association of Builders fought it, the Litigators won out. Essentially, you are now somewhat unprotected from unethical Remodelers. From our viewpoint, now anyone who has a screwriver, a saw and a ladder can call themselves a Remodeler and attempt to earn your business. This is now a real “buyer beware” and or “you will get what you pay for” situation. As you know Elite includes a copy of our TRCC registration certificate in our presentation package. Now with the TRCC having been shut down, it is more important to know if your remodeler was even registered with the TRCC and what was their status? Meaning when the TRCC closed down were they in an “Active” status and were they in a “Good Standing”.
2. Go to the TRCC website and verify the Remodelers Number and the number of jobs they have registered since 2004.
This will tell you how active they have been and if they are registering all of their jobs. It is a Texas law that a Remodeler MUST register all jobs over $10,000 in size. As of August 15, 2009, Elite has registered 224 jobs with the TRCC. Why is this important to you the Homeowner: By asking your Remodeler how many jobs he has or had registered with the TRCC will tell you just how active he has been in the business. It will help you validate some of his credibility. If he says he has been in business for 10 years, but has only registered a handful of jobs, then a RED flag should immediately be raised. You should ask him for a listing of all the jobs he has registered. With the TRCC going away that will be one of only ways you can truly validate his adherance to State Law and he had his Homeowners best interests in mind. Every competent Remodeler will have available a list of registered jobs with the TRCC. If he does not have a list to provide, then I would suggest you pass on this company and work with one that can demonstrate their ethical approach to business.
3. Ask for a copy of their current General Liability Insurance Certificate. Mininum acceptable amount should $2M in total.
Why is this important to you the Homeowner: Gosh forbid should something happen to your home during construction, you want to know if your Remodeler has the appropriate insurance. As you know we include a copy of our General Liability Certificate in our presentation.
4. Ask if the Remodeler is a member of the Greater Dallas Home Builders, Dallas’ Chapter of National Association of Remodeling Industry (NARI) and the National Association of Kitchens and Bath Associations
Why is this important to you the Homeowner: Being a member of these associations tells you that the Remodeler believes in the industry and has agreed to follow their code of ethics. Elite is currently the Chairman of the HBA’s Remodelers Council and a past Board Member of the local NARI chapter. We are also actively involved in the NKBA. Additionally, Elite is a member of the Collin County Association of Realtors. We feel staying connected to this group in important.
5. Ask the Remodeler for any Industry Certifications and or Designations such as NARI Certified Remodeler, NAHB Certified Graduate Remodeler, Certified Aging Persons in Place Specialist. Once again, having Industry designations tells you the Remodeler believes in the industry and is interersted in improving his or her skills.
Why is this important to you the Homeowner: This will tell you if your Remodeler is continuing to educate himself and or his team. Being a Certified Remodeler, either through the HBA or NARI is an important part of our business. Additionally, having Certifications such as Green Building, Universal Design and Access (assistance for the Aging in Place) and Marketing further demonstrates the commitment to the industry that a Remodeler believes in. Elite has on staff 3 CKBRs, 1 CR, 2 CAPS, 1 CSP, 1 CMP, 2 CGPs, 1 RCS, 1 CKD, 1 CBD, 5 Certified Lead Paint Renovators. Yes, a lot of letters, but just showing the commitment to education that we believe in.
6. Ask for a list of references. You want recent references similar to the job you are considering AND a couple of references 2+ years old. support of the Remodeler.
Why is this important to you the Homeowner: These are important to assess the Warranty skills of your Remodelers and how seriously they take this aspect of the business. As you know in our presentation packet we told you that our labor and warranty for our materials is 2 years! 1 year longer than the State of Texas requires. I can tell you that we are in the process of expanding this commitment significantly. We routinely respond to calls that are 2-4 years old for grout cracks etc.
7. Ask for the Bidders BBB grade or rating. Also ask if they are an accredited BBB member.
Why is this important to you the Homeowner: Once again, this tells you if your Remodeler believes 3rd party critiques of the work and the oversight of another national party. Elite’s rating is an Accredited A!
8. Ask for the Bidders what their Warranty Program is?
“Previous” state law was 1 year labor and materials, 2 years on Mechanical and 10 years on structural work. However, in today’s environment there is no State Mandated Warrany. Buyer should beware. Elite’s warranty is “3″ years on labor and material vs the “old” 1 year is “3″ years on labor and materials vs the “1″ year and now no warranty.
Why is this important to you the Homeowner: I think we covered this above under references. You really want to know how your Remodeler has performed and will perform. Also, you want to know if they will be around in 3 years or more to service your account.