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Mike Dew of Oak Tree Construction Services Gives Remodeling Advice to Chicago Homeowners

September 16, 2012

If low cost was the only consideration shoppers valued when choosing an automobile, everyone would be driving around in outdated old clunkers. And therein lies a cautionary truth for homeowners eager to remodel: Don’t choose a contractor based solely on price.

“A remodeler’s bid is an essential factor, but it’s certainly not the only or most important one you should evaluate carefully,” said Mimi Altman, executive director for the Greater Chicagoland Chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI of Greater Chicagoland/NARIGC). “Whenever I’ve heard consumers complaining about contractors, it usually starts with, ‘I should have known better, but their price was the lowest.’  Too many homeowners make the mistake of over-prioritizing price.”

While cost is important, other criteria should be assessed as well, said Dave Roberts, AIA, CR, UDCP, president of Roberts Construction Group, Inc., based in Evanston. “The reputation of the remodeler in their community is one of the first things I would ask about. You need to gather information and feedback about the contractor’s integrity, quality of workmanship and standing in their industry,” Roberts said.

That means researching the remodeler online, investigating their Better Business Bureau rating and inquiring about them with your area Chamber of Commerce and your state’s Attorney General office.

“You should also ask the contractor for homeowner references and call to learn about their experiences,” said Mike Dew, CR, CKBR, co-owner of Oak Tree Construction Services in Schaumburg. “And inquire about professional designations—does the remodeler belong to any reputable industry groups like NARIGC, does he participate in continuing education, and has he earned any impressive credentials like Certified Kitchen and Bath Remodeler?”

Daw cautions not to underestimate the price equation. He said price should be discussed early on when first contacting a remodeler. “Selecting a contractor who can work within your price range and who is also reliable and ethical is crucial,” said Altman. “There’s a lot of truth to the old saying, ‘You get what you pay for.’”

Remember that if the quoted bid seems astonishingly low and too good to be true, it probably is.“That’s likely a sign that the contractor left out some important things like high-grade materials, is preparing to cut corners, or is really desperate.,” Roberts said.Altman recommends getting a referral to a reputable contractor from a trusted professional organization like NARIGC, whose members have to abide by strict industry codes and regularly keep up with continuing education in their profession.

Based in Des Plaines, The Greater Chicagoland Chapter of NARI (www.narichicago.org 847-298-6212)  is a not-for-profit trade association founded in 1987.

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Lynn Walsh is the President at Walsh Communications, LLC. Walsh Communications is a full-service public relations, marketing and advertising agency for home builders and real estate-related industries.

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