Starting Your Home Remodeling Project

Do I need a permit?

Building permits are almost always required for new construction as well as for specific alterations or additions to existing homes. Permit fees vary with project type and project value and are usually just a formality and are very affordable. The person preforming the work, whether it is the homeowner or contractor is usually the one responsible for obtaining any necessary permits. Once the permit is issued you can begin the work.


What is the difference between a contractor, general contractor, and sub-contractor?

A Contractor typically works in a specific trade such as roofing or plumbing.  When that is all your entire project entails, this is who you will work with directly.  A General Contractor is the main contractor performing an entire project that involves many trades.  They will hire other contractors, now known as Sub-Contractors, to perform portions of your project.  The General Contractor usually utilizes several subcontractors and is responsible for scheduling, coordinating, and paying all parties.


Should a contractor have insurance?  Should I get proof?

Yes!  A contractor’s General Liability insurance covers any accidents and may even include coverage for faulty workmanship.  Workers Compensation covers injuries to workers while on your premises or project.  Without insurance, if a worker is injured on your premises you could be sued and find yourself liable for medical bills and more.  Ask for a Proof of Insurance certificate.  The contractor will provide this indicating the limits of their coverage.  Rates of coverage vary by state and may be mandated by law. 


The Contract.  Who provides this?  Do I even need one?

Yes.  Absolutely. You need a contract.  If your project is substantial the contract will usually be provided by a contractor.  If not, the homeowner may supply it.  Go over everything carefully: Scope of work, what is and is not provided, terms and conditions, payments, and warranties.  Contracts may be mandated for building projects by your state and laws can vary. This is an area where you may want to consult with an attorney. 

Contract Checklist: All parties!

*  Get the proper building permit(s).
*  Request a list and verify all sub-contractors.
*  Carefully review and understand all drawings, products, written scope and schedule.
*  Carefully review terms and conditions of your contract.
*  Save all written correspondence, documents and drawings for your records.
*  Make sure you fully understand the payment procedure.
*  Get lien waivers for all payments made by the contractor and all sub-contractors.
*  Execute a Certificate of Completion (see below)


General Conditions:

Contract conditions usually included in a contract. They set performance requirements, rights, responsibilities of the parties involved. Examples: Scope of work, contract, performance, agreements, management information, soft costs, both parties' responsibilities.