Remodeling your kitchen or bathroom is a big project and finding the right contractor to do the work can be daunting. Following a few simple steps in selecting a remodeling contractor can make the difference between hiring a true pro that will show up and deliver quality work or a fly-by-night remodeler who will perform a subpar job.

Since the contractor performing the work will be part of your family for the duration of the project, it’s important that you will be comfortable with the company you choose. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) suggests that it is best to employ a home improvement contractor with an established business in your area. Local firms can be checked through references from past customers in your community or through your local better business bureau. Local remodelers are compelled to perform quality work that satisfies their customers for their business to survive.

HGTV offers several tips in preventing a disaster and getting the best contractor to complete a professional remodeling project that will result in a new kitchen or bathroom that will give you years of service and value to your home.

  • Look at credentials – Do some preliminary research, such as visiting the contractor’s website. Find out whether the remodeler holds all the required licenses from the state and local municipalities, as well as designations from any professional associations like the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA), the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) or the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB). Many remodeling professionals have invested in the coursework and passed rigorous tests in order to earn a particular certification. Be aware, however, that all certifications are not created equal.
  • Check References – Request references and call to verify them. Ask if they were satisfied with the work, if the project ran over budget, and if any problems arose.
  • Business Experience and Management – Check to see if the contractor has a permanent mailing address, e-mail address, personal phone number, fax number, cell phone and voicemail. Also, the contractor should carry insurance to protect you against liability. The remodeler should have an established presence in the community and have solid relationships with subcontractors such as electricians and plumbers.
  • Get it in writing – Scrutinize your contract with the remodeler. The contract should clearly spell out the scope of work, all related prices, payment schedule, warranty and a clause about dispute resolution. Also, the contract should include a waiver of lien that would prevent subcontractors and suppliers from placing a lien on your home should their invoices not be paid by the remodeler.
  • Ask for Referrals – You can’t beat word of mouth as the best way to find a qualified professional to tackle the job. Check with relatives, friends and neighbors about contractors they have used and if they would recommend them. Also ask if they a positive experience and how the contractor handled problems.

Consumer Reports recommends avoiding contractors who make unsolicited phone calls or visits and who do not possess licenses or insurance you can’t verify. Also, they say to be wary of any contractor with high pressure sales tactics or tries to coerce you into signing a contract.