You may have seen posters of me and my husband, glassy-eyed, looking like something from Night of the Living Dead, plastered at some of the local home improvement stores with the words, “Tried to act as their own general contractor, don’t let this happen to you!” Usually, we try to slink in with our sunglasses on, but still, it never fails, someone recognizes us, and then come the guffaws and the pointing to our pictures.
Granted that was a few years ago, when we were younger and much more naïve. Regardless of how EASY those televised home improvement shows make it look, being your own contractor is not always the brightest idea, especially when you are both working full time.
We had a plan, really. We had all our pictures and portfolios, we had gathered names and referrals, lists and more lists, and still…. We got through it, but it was not all a good experience. Who goes to bat for you when something goes wrong? Who gives you advice? By the end of the remodel, we were weary, discouraged, and had spent more money (that we tried to save by being our own contractor) than if we had just hired someone to act on our behalf.
How to get started finding one that is right for you? Southwestern Indiana Builders Association (SIBA) has some wonderful tips on planning, getting organized and choosing a contractor. You can find their information online at www.sibaonline.org and go to For Consumers. They also have information on what you should avoid as well.
Contact friends and family members who have had work done and ask what their experience was and what company they used. View the work and see if it meets your expectations.
The Better Business Bureau always suggests that you obtain at least three bids. Don’t always choose the lowest bid without knowing all of the facts. Ask for referrals from the companies that are bidding your job.If possible, make appointments to talk to the companies’ other customers and inspect the work that was done.
Contact the Better Business Bureau to check on the company’s Business Review and complaint history. See if the company responds to complaints and what the outcome was. You may also go to www.bbb.org/evansville and look in the Accredited Business Directory for contractors that have committed to abide by the BBB Standards of Accreditation.
Some additional information that may be helpful:
The FTC’s Trade Regulation Rule states a consumer has three business days to cancel a contract (for over $25.00) signed at a private residence, motel, or other temporary location. This “cooling-off” period applies to cash as well as credit transactions. The seller is required to provide the buyer “Notice of Cancellation” papers at the time of the transaction. (FTC Rule 16-CRF-429 and IN Code 24-5-10-1 through 18 and IN Uniform Credit Code 24-4-5-2-501 & 502).
Indiana Law requires that consumers be given a contract, orally or in writing, for any home improvement project costing $150.00 or more (Indiana Law #24-5-11-4). Your BBB suggests contracts be in writing.
Contractors and roofers are required to be licensed in Vanderburgh County. Consumers may wish to verify licensing by calling the Building Commissioner at 812-436-7880.
We hope that this information assists in keeping your home improvement experience a great one! For more information, contact us at www.bbb.org/evansville or 812-473-0202.