According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in just a 3-year period, 60.5% of all residential contractors were newly formed while 46.2% of existing contractors had gone out of business!
I have to say, I found this statistic to be quite alarming, and you should too. Whether you are considering a new kitchen, bath, siding, or any other home improvement project, you must take care to choose your contractor wisely. The remodeling industry is one with almost no barrier to entry, and often times excellent craftsmen turn out to be terrible businessmen. One question you should ask yourself as you choose a contractor is this - "Will this company still be in business if and when something goes wrong?".
In talking with a good friend the other day, the subject of remodeling came up, as you may expect. He told me about his experience with a roofer that he had found in the classified ads of his local newspaper. His roof had a leak over his kitchen and he needed it repaired quickly, before too much damage was done. He contacted the gentleman, who came to look at the roof and left a hand-written bid for the project in his mailbox. The bid seemed more than reasonable, so the work was contracted, started on time, and completed in a timely manner.
Fast forward six or seven months. It was Easter, and my friend was having dinner for a house full of friends and relatives. It was raining and windy (I'm sure you can see where this is going). As dinner concluded, there was a large group in the kitchen when, to everyone's surprise, the roof began to stream water through the ceiling tiles in two or three different places. The roofer had not used any caulking where the kitchen roof met the house wall - the wind-driven rain was pushing into that crevice, and dumping on to my friend's Easter guests. Wonderful.
Needless to say, a call was made to the roofing contractor for repairs. No answer. More calls were made with the same result, until my friend gave up and decided to risk his own safety by climbing up on to the roof to make the repair himself. Thankfully the repair was not too involved - it could have been MUCH worse - but it does go to show the dark side of the home remodeling business. For many, it is easy in, easy out.
Choose your contractor wisely. Some considerations to help you along the way are:
1) Do they have a place of business? - A brick and mortar business site or showroom indicates stability and financial responsibility.
2) How long have they been in operation? - Don't be afraid to ask the question. Longevity in the remodeling business means alot. If the work comes with a warranty, what good is it if the company is no longer in business?
3) Does the company have a website? - If so, how long has it been online? It is fairly easy to research a domain name to find out how long a website has been active. No website, or one that just popped up a few months ago? You may want to dig a little deeper.
A little bit of homework can go a long way towards securing a quality job on your next home improvement project. Don't purchase based on price alone - look a little closer to be sure you don't choose a contractor who will fall into that statistic at the beginning of this blog post!