With countless entertainment programs featuring fearless homeowners getting their hands dirty as they work to transform their properties with an endless array of home improvement projects, it’s no surprise that many people find themselves contemplating ways to improve their own homes. While enthusiasm is an excellent asset, it’s not enough to guarantee a success. Some projects around the house are ideal for motivated do-it-yourselfers. Others are downright dangerous and should only be entrusted to a reputable professional. Family owned and operated companies like the Lake Zurich-based, Aloha Construction have the ability to assess problems and find unique ways to tackle the problem.
But, how can homeowners determine whether a project is one that they can safely tackle or one that makes enlisting a general contractor a must? Why is careful consideration vital when selecting a general contractor? What can people do to ensure that they choose the right general contractor?
To Hire or Not to Hire
Size, scope and difficulty are the three major factors to be weighed when people are deciding whether to go it alone or hire a contractor. Is it a simple project that requires only rudimentary skills, basic tools and minimal time? A homeowner who is itching to put in a little sweat equity and feels confident about their capabilities might be able to complete it without any outside assistance. However, hiring a general contractor to helm the project is probably wise if it meets any of the following qualifications.
It’s a Large-Scale Project
Large-scale projects are generally complex. This means that there are plenty of places where things can go wrong. A home is a major investment. Why risk sabotaging its value or endangering the safety of the people and property that it shelters? If multiple, interconnected projects or complicated improvements are in the plan, it’s best to entrust the project to a professional with the expertise to get the job done efficiently and effectively.
It Requires Expensive, Unfamiliar Tools
Although it never hurts for a homeowner to have a few basic tools on hand, some projects require pricey specialty tools that the average person is unlikely to use often. Instead of investing in this equipment, putting in the time necessary to learn to use it and buying the additional materials to practice on, it’s often more efficient to turn to a professional.
It Involves Major Systems
There’s a reason that plumbers and electricians must be licensed. A home’s major systems are complex structures that are regulated by strict building codes to ensure that they work effectively without endangering people, property or the environment. If a project calls for extensive wiring or plumbing work, then it is best left to a professional.
It Is Something Structural
The structural integrity of a home is a crucial component that helps determine its ability to safeguard the people and property inside it from the elements. If that integrity is compromised, major problems that require expensive fixes are almost certain to result. If a project involves the roof or foundation or calls for tearing down or building walls, only a professional should take charge of it.
It Calls for Demolition and Permits
Major architectural changes, the installation of new doors and windows, and comprehensive remodeling projects often require tearing out existing elements to make way for the new improvements. Permits, paperwork, and inspections also tend to be needed. Generally speaking, if a renovation project calls for significant demolition work, a permit or inspections to verify that the work is up to code, it is a safe bet that it also needs a professional touch.
It Is Restoration Work.
When a fire, flood or storm damages a home, the work required to restore it presents unique challenges that most homeowners are not prepared to handle. To make matters worse, there may be damage that isn’t readily apparent to those unfamiliar with restoration work. In order to halt the damage process, limit losses and prevent future issues, it is vital that a homeowner enlist an experienced professional with the knowledge and equipment needed to restore the property properly.
An Essential Decision
Why is careful consideration vital when selecting a general contractor? Having the right contractor at the helm increases the odds that the project will run smoothly and reduces the risk of cost overruns, missed deadlines and other headaches. Unfortunately, not all contractors are equal and choosing the wrong one can turn remodeling dreams into expensive, stressful nightmares.
Fortunately, there are reputable general contractors who truly prioritize quality and work diligently to deliver the kind of top-notch work that leads to satisfied customers. These professionals have the experience, integrity, professional connections and resources to complete projects successfully. They are familiar with the latest trends, techniques and materials, and they know what works, so their guidance can help customers get the best value for their money as they improve their property.
When searching for a trustworthy general contractor, it can be helpful to know what to look for. Aloha provides an excellent example of what consumers seeking a general contractor should search for. Serving Illinois and southern Wisconsin, this firm has built a solid reputation while successfully completing more than 200,000 projects.
Clearly, selecting a reputable contractor who is a good fit matters. In this situation, doing a little homework can really pay off for homeowners.
Exploring the Types of Contractors
Determining what type of contractor the project requires is a good first step. An architect is a professional who crafts designs for major renovations, additions and entire homes. If structural changes are planned, design services are likely necessary. A specialty contractor focuses on a specific type of construction like installing lighting fixtures or cabinets. In contrast, a general contractor deals with a bigger picture. They handle the entire project, which might include getting permits, overseeing the work completed by their own crew, hiring and supervising subcontractors, and scheduling any inspections. Finally, there are some contractors who offer design-build services. Here, the workload traditionally split between the architect and the general contractor is combined under the watchful eye of a single entity.
Aloha Construction is a leading general contractor that offers expert roofing, siding replacement, and gutter services. Interior remodeling services like the window, screen or door replacement are also on the company’s service menu. Mold and mildew removal, water damage restoration, fire damage restoration, and carpet cleaning are also available.
Identifying the Possibilities
How do homeowners go about finding a contractor? There are many ways:
Ask for recommendations from friends, family members, neighbors, and coworkers.
Check with local home improvement stores.
Use the internet to identify prospects; review sites can be particularly helpful.
A clever jingle, an appealing ad or a slick website might be enough to inspire interest in a contractor, but a smart homeowner will look
deeper before making any hiring decisions. After gathering a list of potential contractors, it’s time to do a little homework. Homeowners should determine how long the contractor has been in business and check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the contractor has a good reputation or a history of problems. It’s also smart to visit rating and review websites for insight into the contractor’s work and the experience of past customers. Aloha Construction has an A rating with the Better Business Bureau and has been honored with the organization’s 2017 Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics. A prestigious honor, the Torch Award recognizes companies that exhibit a firm commitment to excellent leadership, superior business practices, and remarkable social responsibility.
What to Do When Contacting Contractors
After narrowing their list of potential contractors, homeowners should contact those they are interested in working with and request estimates from each one. To get the best results from this part of the process, homeowners need to do two things.
Get Multiple Estimates
Getting multiple estimates lets a homeowner get a realistic sense of what their project should cost, but the price should not be the determining factor when picking a general contractor. Instead, homeowners should review the various estimates and compare them carefully. Identifying the differences in the proposals and asking about them helps homeowners better understand what their project entails, what each contractor is prepared to provide, what options they have, and what the pros and cons of those options are. In evaluating multiple bids, homeowners become educated consumers and are better prepared to make intelligent choices.
Ask Lots of Questions
Requesting multiple estimates opens the door to discussions with contractors. It also gives homeowners a chance to get a sense of how each contractor operates and provides an invaluable opportunity to ask questions about the following topics:
Ideally, homeowners should ask about both the contractor’s overall experience and their involvement with projects similar to the one under discussion. After all, a contractor who has completed similar projects will already know where potential problems are lurking and be ready to help their clients avoid them.
If contractors lack the proper insurance, an unlucky homeowner may find themselves liable for injuries or damages that occur during the course of the job or unable to recover their losses if things go wrong. Before hiring any contractor, it’s important to make sure that they have current workers’ compensation insurance, property damage coverage, and personal liability insurance. A contractor with proper coverage should be willing to provide copies of their insurance certificates upon request.
Failure to acquire necessary permits can result in fines or even demands for work to be torn down. Therefore, it’s crucial that a contractor be familiar with the permitting process. Typically, reputable contractors will handle getting the needed permits.
Knowing whether subcontractors will be used allows a homeowner to investigate these professionals as well.
Contacting previous customers gives homeowners a chance to ask about the experience of working with a particular contractor and the quality of their work. It may also give them a chance to view that work.
How willing to answer questions is the contractor? Do they provide status reports to keep homeowners in the loop? Who is the contact person if there is a problem? Exploring how a contractor communicates gives homeowners a chance to evaluate their communication style and make sure that it meshes comfortably with their own.
How does Aloha Construction Stack up?
After serving customers for nearly a decade, this family-owned and -operated firm has earned a reputation for ethical conduct and quality workmanship, and it continues to steadily add names to its list of satisfied customers. This all-inclusive contractor is a member of the Building Trades Association, the National Roofing Contractors Association and the Chicago Roofing Contractors Association. Aloha is fully licensed, insured and bonded. Aloha Construction prides itself on putting its roofers through an extensive education process before becoming part of a team. In 2017, Aloha received an A rating by the Better Business Bureau for its excellent customer service, dedication, and hard work.
Recognizing Warning Signs
Knowing what to look for may help, but recognizing red flags that might signal problems ahead offers another layer of assurance. No matter how good the deal that they’re offering seems, savvy homeowners, avoid a contractor who does things like the following:
Pushes hard for an immediate decision.
Doesn’t have a physical address or phone number for their business.
Expects the customer to handle the permitting process.
Knocks on the door with a special offer or promises a price that is too good to be true.
Offers a low price because they have materials left over from another job.
Accepts only cash or demands full payment before they’ll begin work.
Encourages customers to sign blank documents.
Refuses to complete a written contract.
Building A Constructive Relationship
Selecting a reputable contractor is not the only task homeowners face when dealing with a renovation or restoration project. After the selection is made, there are a few crucial details that must be attended to.
Getting It in Writing
Although not all states require a written contract, having one protects both the contractor and the customer. An effective contract will include several crucial items:
The contractor’s contact information and license number.
The expected start and completion dates.
A materials list indicating the brand, model, color and size of each product to be used.
A detailed list of exactly what the contractor will do; related services that will not
be provide may also be listed for clarity.
The contractor’s responsibility to handle all permitting.
The contractor’s responsibility regarding cleanup.
The process for any change orders.
Information regarding any warranties or guarantees for materials or workmanship.
The circumstances under which the contract can be canceled.
The payment schedule for all involved.
Aloha Construction is widely recognized as a reputable and trustworthy business. Committed to making excellent customer service and support a priority, it is continually striving to offer its customers better service. To that end, the company offers free home inspections and consultations to interested homeowners. Education is also a focus, and all employees of Aloha Construction are highly trained and possess the skills and commitment to the quality needed to deliver top-notch craftsmanship. They offer a free inspection for anyone interested in getting an estimate. In addition to providing a wide array of services, the company offers free estimates and home inspections for anyone interested. In 2017, the team won the BBB’s Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, a prestigious honor for a business that holds themselves to a high ethical standard.
Keeping Things Together
What else can homeowners do to encourage a constructive relationship with their contractor? Keeping organized records definitely helps. Homeowners should maintain an activity log with details of any conversations or encounters with their contractor and keep it with their copy of the contract. Copies of any change orders, any relevant correspondence and a record of all payments should also be included.
Capitalizing on Payments
Being smart about payment is another wise move. It’s best to avoid cash payments. Credit card payments work well with small projects, and financing plans can make larger projects feasible. Only a down payment should change hands in the project’s initial stages, and additional payments should be contingent on the completion of specific tasks. In fact, homeowners should know when their state’s laws allow them to withhold payment. It’s generally best to avoid signing a release or making the final payment until they are satisfied with what has been accomplished.
Home improvements can be fantastic investments, but affording them can be challenging. This is especially true when an unexpected disaster makes repairs and restoration necessary. To make things easier, Aloha Construction has partnered with Synchrony Financial, one of the largest providers of private label credit cards in the U.S. People who have concerns about affording the long-term cost may now qualify for financing options.
While completing a project is always exciting, homeowners need to evaluate the situation carefully before getting caught up in celebrating. Before signing off and making the final payment, homeowners should do the following:
Inspect the completed work and confirm that it meets the standards set out in the contract.
Check that the job site has been cleaned up as specified in the contract.
Verify that all suppliers and subcontractors have been paid.
Make sure that they possess all the written warranties for materials and workmanship.