Checkbook's ratings and tips for hiring a remodeling contractor


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    Whether it's work on your roof, a multi-room paint job, or a total interior face-lift, it's in your best interest to get at least three contractor bids. Talking to multiple contractors allows you to compare operating styles, levels of professionalism, organization and how well they communicate with you — in addition to what they charge.

    Kevin Brasler and the research team at Checkbook.org say a top remodeling mistake is hiring contractors too quickly and for the wrong reasons.

    "These companies have all these great and shiny claims about what they can do and then it all falls apart once you've hired them," said Brasler.

    On the positive side, there are plenty of reputable contractors in this market. But, illegal contractors and contractor scams are still a big problem. So it's critical to take time to check out contractors and compare. Before you sign a contract, get personal referrals from people you trust. Meet the contractor in person, explain the work you want done and verify the contractor's credentials with state regulators.

    "Do check their references, don't just let them give you references to their cousins and best friends," Brasler urged.

    Checkbook's latest report on remodeling and general contractors lists more than 800 businesses in the Puget Sound region to help you make a wise choice. The online report includes feedback from many of the contractor's local customers, along with important contractor precautions: never hire solely based on advertising; never hire door-to-door solicitors; never sign generic contracts that don't itemize the work and costs; never pay the total up front. As a rule, payments should be made in phases, as the work progresses.

    "You, for sure, want that final payment to be as big as possible," stressed Brasler. "It gives you time to assess whether the contractor has done everything he's supposed to do, and then you decide, 'okay, I'm happy, I'm paying.'"

    Unlike other ratings and referral services, Checkbook is a non-profit and does allow businesses to buy advertising or pay to be included. Ratings are based on survey responses from consumers who subscribe to Checkbook.org and Consumer Reports.

    Checkbook's full remodeling contractor report takes you through the important steps of making a plan, vetting contractors and designers, avoiding common remodeling pitfalls and saving money on your project.

    As a courtesy to KOMO viewers, the subscriber-based information and ratings will be accessible through this link until March 22, 2019.

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