From the Better Business Bureau of Central Virginia:
There are many motivations for taking on a remodeling project — improving curb appeal, adding new features to a room, updating your interior, etc. Before starting construction or remodeling project, homeowners need to consider carefully who should work in your home; find BBB rated remodeling companies near you.
There are also some specific things to consider before work begins.
Plan your project from start to finish. Talk to friends or family members who have had remodeling work that you like. Try to find pictures of what you like to show the contractor what you want. If you are leaving any decisions up to the contractor, make sure you put budget and material requirements in the contract. Be clear about who is responsible for ordering materials and when they need to do it. Remember that delivery and construction times may affect your schedule; decide what time workers may be in your home and where they should store any materials and equipment when they are not there.
Figure out your entire budget. Don’t forget things like eating out more than usual if you are doing a kitchen remodel, or hotel expenses if you will have to move out of your home during any of the work. Expect to have a little extra money in the budget to cover any unexpected expenses, especially when working on an older home. Decide if you need to split the project into phases, based on how the budget is shaping up. If the contractor arranges financing for the remodeling work, be sure you understand all aspects of the terms, especially you are taking out a second mortgage on your home or a home equity line as security. You may want to ask about putting an arbitration clause into your contract, in case of any dispute between you and your contractor. Get all changes in writing before work continues.
Inspect prior work. When you talk to potential contractors, ask them for examples of work they have done that is similar to what you want. Find out if it is possible to contact previous clients and to inspect the work that was done for them. You will also want to ask the client if the project was finished on time, if they were satisfied with the work, and if there were any unexpected costs added during the project. Ask and check to see if the contractor is licensed and bonded in your city and state to perform the work. Be sure to check out their BBB profile for reviews and licensing information.
Approve architectural plans. If your project requires plans from an architect, make sure you are involved in discussions with them and that you approve any plans before work begins.
Research permits. Talk to your remodeling contractor about permits, but also do independent research to find out what is required. Make sure the remodeler will be able to obtain permits before starting the work.
See all of our home improvement tips on BBB.org/HomeHQ.
About the BBB serving Central Virginia:
BBB serving Central Virginia serves Richmond, the Tri-Cities, Charlottesville, and Fredericksburg, as well as 42 surrounding counties from Fauquier to Mecklenburg and Northumberland to Amherst. The nonprofit organization was established in 1954 to advance responsible, honest, and ethical business practices and to promote customer confidence through self-regulation of business. Core services of BBB include business profiles, dispute resolution, truth-in advertising, scam warnings, consumer and business education, and charity review.