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The first and best Tip when Remodeling is the following:

Never, Never, pay anyone until they have started the work and have many of the materials on the site and Never, Never, Never, pay a contractor the final payment, until they are completely finished and you have all those little things completed or hold back 10%. Once you pay them, if they weren't finished, you will be waiting and waiting for that completion. If you hold back a % of the final payment, it will give them incentive to finish up those little odds and ends or if they do not come back, you have the money to pay someone else to finish their job. Now I had on one occasion, a client that flat out wanted to take me to the cleaners and dang if I felt it before I took the job and sure enough they held back money, which was fine, but after going back 5 or 6 times and they kept saying they were not happy, I found out that they had done the same thing to 3 other contractors and they also ended up losing money, so we get taken also, we check you out before we take your jobs also, lol. There was another time that we were Installing Kitchens for a very large chain store, I was subcontracting from them, well the client on the very first day on the job, was suppose to have all the existing cabinets removed, we arrived on the job to start the install and the cabinets had not been removed and their client says no that was in your bid to remove the existing cabinets, Oh, so having an itemized bid with the chain store I called and told them, they ended up paying me to remove the existing cabinets, then we supposedly chipped a light, but the Designer remembered that it was chipped when she first bid the project, but the chain store gave the client a new light, then the cabinets were to dark, the client thought they would be lighter, it went on and on, I finally had to have the stores Home Improvement Supervisor come the the job and deal with the client. At the end of that day, she pulled me aside and said, your done here, you did a perfect job and there is nothing more either of us can do to make this person happy, that person was out to get as much free as they could, whew, thank goodness those kind of projects are rare.
I can't tell you how many times customers have offered to give me money, before I have even started. I would turn it down and ask them to pay me a week after I started the job. Remember, the money is what they are there for. I have seen contractors show up on a job the first day and ask for the first payment, then go to another job and start that one and not return to the first one for a week or two. Any reputable Contractor, does not need, that money up front, they should be able to have the materials delivered to the job and should be able to start the work before the first payment is made, that to me is good faith. If the contractor tells you they can not start until you give them money to purchase the materials, I would have to wonder. There are times when you will have to pay a deposit or first draw before work starts, that generally is when you are dealing with a very large well known Home Improvement Company, in order for them to get you on their schedule, they may require the first draw at the signing of the contract. But you will pay a premium for their services. But you also are paying for top quality of materials and workmanship. Just be careful, get 3 bids and if 2 are close in price and the 3rd is very low, chances are the low bidder forgot something or is really using cheap materials and labor. I once bid against 2 other companies for a large remodeling project, a new roof, new siding and a very large addition to the rear of the house, I was bidding against one of the large Home Improvement Companies and a small contractor, the Home Improvement Company and my bid came in at a about the same price, mine was $400.00 less then theirs, the small contractor came in at $11,000.00 less then our bids. Now that has to throw up a red flag, the client ended up going with me, but was actually thinking of giving the bid to the small contractor. The person called and asked me about the bids and I just said that if two of us that were established businesses came within $400.00 on our bids and the other company came in so low, what was he missing and did the client want to take the risk of the contractor not being able to complete the project.
Get a Detailed Contract, of what the Contractor is going to do, material list, approximate completion date, a break down of what they are doing and not doing, who's responsible for the subcontractors, permits, plans, cleanup ( how often will that be done, every day, week, what?, in remodeling you may want to insist they clean up daily, a remodeling project is stressful enough for customers, you don't need to be walking around in a mess every night), I have worked for and heard of a lot of Contractors say they will Bid a Project Low, get it, with a really vague contract, then start with the, well I don't have this figured into my bid and it's going to cost you an arm and a leg. Your stuck ) : and they know it. That's how they make the money, get a detailed break down of what they are going to do, it protects you and it protects them. Some Clients will flat out lie, well you said you would do this, when you know you did not, if it is all in Black and White there can be no disputes. So if a Contractor hesitates, tell the Contractor it is for his protection too!
Get that material list, they are going to tell you, they're is no need for you to have that, bull, just say, well I know that you receive a discount on the materials because you buy in volume, I do not wish to receive that discount, I would like to be able to verify what materials are bid and what are being put into the actual building. If you don't get the material list, half of them will bid one quality and install a lesser quality ( cheaper) product. We were setting up a basement poured wall and my Employer, told me not to put the rebar in, even though it was bid into the job. This goes on, all the time. Also in Remodeling, the materials it will take to complete a Project is an Educated guess as is the Total Bid, so the Contractor may have materials left over, those are his or hers, it could very well go the other way for him or her and they may have to buy more materials then they figured, you want to make sure they hold true to the quality.
I installed two Loan Calculators, one for Home Loans the other for Regular Loans. Loan Calculators

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