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Bathroom Remodel: Questions to Ask a Contractor

Bathroom remodeling isn't a cheap home improvement project and it can take a long time -- especially if you don't have a shower for a week -- so it is important you find the right contractor to do the job.
Asking the right questions during the bidding process can mean the difference between finding a contractor you trust and enjoy working with – vs. a long and trying few weeks.

Does the contractor have the goods?
First and foremost, is your contractor licensed and insured? Make sure you check this information out with your local licensing board; check with your local city hall on how to discover this.

Ask about the schedule
A contractor should be able to provide you a written schedule of the construction tasks they intend to perform. This helps prevent disagreements over the length of time it takes to finish the job, and gives you an indication of how long it will be before the dust settles.

Do they stand by their work?
Make sure the work performed will be backed up by an expressed warranty. Any contractor worth their salt is going to want to make sure you are happy, and that any repairs that need to be done are taken care of promptly.

Do they roll with the punches?
Does the contractor bidding on your bathroom remodeling job have a change-order policy? If you change your mind about an element of your bathroom later on, what is the policy for making those changes, and how would the contractor handle them?

When do they expect payment?
A contractor will require a certain percentage of the job estimate up front, and then you will make payments for the remainder as the job is completed. Make sure you know how much is expected, and when, and that he/she will put it in writing.

How do they handle disputes?
Find out how your bathroom contractor handles disagreements, and make sure to put a dispute resolution clause into the contract. Disagreements during any remodeling job are the primary cause of expensive lawsuits, and inconvenient unfinished jobs. Agree on how you might "disagree."

Will your contractor 'lien' on you?
If the contractor bidding your job has a policy of placing a lien on a home if invoices go unpaid, you want to know this up front. Losing your home over construction lawsuits is not the way you want your bathroom remodeling to go! Make sure they are willing to put a clause into a contract called a "waiver of lien" to protect yourself, and your home.

Can they put you in touch with former clients?
A contractor who is not willing to give you at least three solid references is one to watch out for. Ask for references, and check them all out before agreeing to sign a contract.

Finally, remember to interview at least three different contractors when taking bids on bathroom remodeling. Always check their references and licensing, and find out how long they have been in business.

Take notes during each contractor interview, and use the notes later to help you choose the right candidate.

Finally -- and importantly -- remember also to try to choose someone you get along well with, as any remodeling can be a stressful time.

Bathroom remodeling will go much smoother if you follow this easy checklist, and choose your contractor wisely!

Your Next Move:

Kathy Wilson is a home and garden writer, author and consultant and is the home decorating expert for LifetimeTV.com. Visit her for more home and garden ideas at http://www.TheBudgetDecorator.com and http://www.TheGardenGlove.com.

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