Homeowner Info & Tips
What is a NARI Pro?The NARI Tampa Bay Chapter is a not-for-profit trade association committed exclusively to the service of the professional remodeling industry. Representing professional remodeling contractors, product manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, trade and consumer publications, utilities and lending institutions, NARI stands as the spokesgroup of the industry and an ally to the nation's homeowners.
The professional remodeling
contractor who is a member of NARI has immediate access to the latest
information through the Internet, trade publications, educational
programs, bi-annual conventions, and expositions that feature new
products, materials and techniques.
The NARI remodeling contractor is pledged to uphold the Association's Code of Ethics and is dedicated to the professionalism and integrity of the remodeling industry.
When you decide to remodel, look for the NARI logo and contact your local NARI contractor. It's the mark of a professional.
How to Select a Remodeler?
Start your home improvement project by selecting a professional, reliable remodeling contractor.
Finding a qualified, professional remodeling contractor need not be a difficult or unpleasant task.
By following these basic guidelines, you
will not only make the selection process easier, but you will also be
more prepared to make an informed decision that best suits your needs.
Proper Planning is Important
- Employ a contractor with an established business in your local area.
Local firms can be checked through past customers. As tax-paying
members of your local community, they are compelled to perform
satisfactory work for local homeowners in order for their business to
survive. Always be sure that you do business with a company properly
licensed to work in your area.
- Look for a local member of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). The NARI logo is the mark of a professional.
- Check the remodeling contractor with the local Office of Consumer Affairs to see if there is an adverse record or file.
- Ask for local homeowner references
and follow-up on them. Call the references; ask if they were satisfied
with all aspects of the contractor's performance. Ask to see the
- When interviewing the contractors for your project,
do not blindly accept the lowest estimate. Ask the contractor why his
price is higher or lower than another. Are all contractors planning to
build the same project? Have all the contractors considered all the
details necessary for your project's success? Often times, a higher
price may be worth the cost of better materials and service. REMEMBER that your remodeling dollars spent represent a permanent investment in the home you will spend countless hours in.
- Choose a company with which you feel at ease and one that is well-matched to the scope and complexity of your particular project.
Think your project through
from start to finish. Your home represents a large investment. Its
proper care and maintenance are essential. Your home must suit your
present needs as well as your lifestyle.
Carefully plan your home
improvements so you can update your home, increase the value of your
investment, and customize your living space -- all for a lot less than
the cost of a new house.
Look over your property carefully.
What repairs are needed? What improvements would you like? Think ahead
and determine your future needs. Do you need an additional bedroom, a
refurnished bath, or a modern kitchen? Professional remodeling
contractors can help you in your planning by outlining options and
discussing the improvements you can make within your budget.
Carefully consider what you
can afford to spend and what you can afford to borrow, keeping in mind
that the improvements you envision should enhance your property's
value. Establishing a realistic budget first will help you to make
decisions later, and better enable a remodeling contractor or other
design professional to prepare a plan which suits your requirements.
Choosing a Course of Action
Depending on your own needs and the size
and complexity of your intended remodeling project, there are several
different options for you to explore in attempting to crystallize your
ideas. In order that you best achieve your objective, you should
attempt to define which of the following alternatives represents the
best approach for your project.
1 - Architect / Designer
Major remodeling projects require
construction drawings for the purposes of defining a contract and
procurement of permits. In cases where your professional remodeler does
not provide design services, you may wish to seek the assistance of a
professionally trained architect. In any event, it is best to work with
a designer experienced with remodeling; he or she will be more
sensitive to the special challenges that remodeling presents.
The decision to involve a designer in
your remodeling plans does not always pertain to a certain price or
size of job. Your own needs, desires and ability to verbalize and
visualize what it is you want will determine whether or not you need an
Choosing the right designer will provide
you with a person who is able to help clarify the goals of your project
and prioritize your remodeling agenda. The architect can further assist
you by recommending a competent general contractor, evaluating contract
proposals for your job, and inspecting the progress of your job for
compliance with building codes and job specifications.
2 - Contractor
Many home improvements such as porch
construction, roofing, siding and window replacement may not require
professional design services and can best be handled by the experienced
contractor whose knowledge of materials and methods has been gained by
years on the job.
Here again, be sure to deal with a
professional. Even though the job may be relatively small, its
successful completion is important to you. Small jobs, too, need
careful planning and attention to details. A reputable remodeling
contractor will not give you a sketchy proposal hastily drawn on the
back of an envelope.
3 - The Design / Build Contractor
Design / Build is a concept
developed to benefit the remodeling homeowner by providing both quality
design and construction services within the same general contracting
A few of the advantages of working with a design / build firm are:
- Knowing project job costs
- a design/build contractor knows his job costs, so throughout the
design process, the project is being engineered to fit your budget and
- Communications -
Remodeling is very complex. Developing clear specifications, and
precise, responsible design are crucial aspects of the entire process.
The lines of communication that are developed in the design stage
prepare the groundwork for a clear, well-run remodeling project.
- Teamwork - When you
contract with a professional design/build firm, you become part of a
team whose goal is to design and construct a project that will fit your
Comply with Building Codes and Permits
Building codes are established by most
cities, towns, and counties and vary considerably from one jurisdiction
to another. In addition, many local communities have established
further restrictions and covenants which could affect your remodeling
plans. It is wise to inquire at your local homeowners' association so
that planning may proceed in conformance with any regulations which may
A building permit generally is required
whenever structural work is involved or when the basic living area of a
home is to be changed. For example, if you have a home with an
unfinished basement and would like to finish off a portion of it for a
family room, you would need a building permit in most jurisdictions
because you have changed the basic amount of living space in your house
from storage space to "livable" space.
The complex details of local building
codes and permits are familiar details to a professional remodeling
contractor who works in your community or town every day and know the
local requirements. You must pay any fee required by your municipality
and are responsible for penalties resulting from any failure to file
A Well-Written Contract is Essential
Detail what the contractor will and won't do
- such as protection of your household goods surrounding the job site
and daily clean-up upon completion of the job. Since this an additional
labor cost for the contractor, it may slightly raise the cost of your
job, but it is well worth the price.
Specify all materials. Your
contractor should detail a list of all materials for the project in
your contract. This includes size, color, weight, model, brand name,
quantity and product.
Understand the financial terms.
Make sure that the terms are spelled out in the contract. The total
price, payment schedule, and cancellation policy (if there is one)
should be clear.
Warranties should be in writing.
Make sure any warranties offered are written into the contract. A
warranty must be identified as either "Full" or "Limited." If it is a
"Full Warranty," all faulty products must be repaired, replaced or your
money returned. If it is a "Limited Warranty," this indicates all
replacements and refunds of damaged products are limited in some
regard. The name and address of the party who will honor the warranty
(contractor, distributor or manufacturer) must be identified. Make sure
the time period is clearly specified for which the warranty is offered.
Codes and restrictions should be followed.
Be sure that your contract with a professional remodeler spells out any
code or permit restrictions, as well as any fees involved in the work
on your home.
Think carefully before you sign a contract.
If it is incomplete, don't sign it. Do you understand everything? Are
you getting what you really want? Are you paying a fair price? Do you
have a copy? Read the contract again. If it is incomplete, don't sign
it. If an item you want isn't written in the contract, you probably
won't get it. Know all of the facts before you spend your hard-earned
Working with a Professional Contractor
Be sure to put all changes in writing if
the scope of complexity of your remodeling project is modified while
work is being done. The amendment should be agreed upon by both parties.
Ask your professional contractor to
provide certification of insurance covering workers' compensation,
property damage and personal liability.
Financing Your Remodeling Project
Your may wish to obtain financing for
your remodeling project. There are various financing plans readily
available to homeowners. Among the most popular is the equity
line-of-credit which bases the loan amount on the equity in your home.
Most banks and major finance companies offer this plan at reasonable,
competitive rates and terms. Many of these lenders also offer
fixed-rate and term loans on an unsecured basis.
Your local professional remodeling
contractor is familiar with many of the financing options available and
can often help you arrange the financing you need, thereby minimizing
your expenditure of time and effort.
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