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Blog :: 06-2015

Tips to Hire a Contractor You Can Trust for Home Repairs

Hiring a contractor can be a process fraught with anxiety. Take a few precautionary steps to ensure that you're getting a trustworthy contractor who does high-quality work.

1. Ask for Referrals
Reputable contractors do not knock on doors to solicit work. The best source of recommendations is talking to people who have had similar jobs done. This can be as simple as asking friends and neighbors if they can recommend someone.

2. Do a Background Check
Search the names of the contractor and the company online, and do searches adding words like scam and problems. Check sites like the local Better Business Bureau and Rip Off Report for complaints. Most states also have a website allowing you to check if a business is properly registered or if a person has a required license.

3. Get Estimates
Take the time to get several bids on the project. Watch out for red flags such as arriving late, appearing disorganized or dirty, and making a bid without looking closely at what the job involves. Take a pass on any contractor who cannot provide references, or who claims to have references but cannot provide contact information.

Be careful of bids that are a lot lower than the other bids; this is often a contractor who either plans to use substandard materials or who lacks the experience to fully understand what the job involves. Extreme low-ball contractors are also likely to attempt to add on expenses mid-project either because they planned a bait and switch or aren't making as much as they thought they would because they underestimated the costs.

4. Get a Contract
For all but the most simple jobs, the contractor should be willing to draw up a contract. The contract should state the scope of the job, the type of materials to be used and the payment schedule: including upfront deposit, interim payments for stages of work completed, and final payments. Be wary if the contractor pressures you to sign immediately; they should be willing to wait 24 hours for you to review the contract in detail, particularly for complex jobs.

5. Don't Pay Everything Up Front
Once the contract is signed, the main leverage that the customer has is the outstanding balance due to the contractor. A deposit before work begins is usual, but should not be more than 10 to 20 percent of the total fee. More may be required for custom orders as the contractor may have to pay for specially ordered materials, but commonly used materials and tools that can be used for other jobs are normally carried on the contractor's own account.

6. Check Their Work Before Final Payment
Make sure that the job is finished to complete satisfaction before handing over the final payment. Once the contractor has all the money in hand, there is less incentive for him to return and fix things.

Focus on Curb Appeal for the Highest Return on Investment

The Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report for 2015 analyzed home improvement projects to see which would give homeowners the biggest return on their investments when it came time to sell. The top five investments that put the most cash into sellers' pockets were all visible from the curb.

Upgrade Your Front Door
Replacing an old front door with a new steel one was the most affordable renovation on the list, with an average cost of $1,230. But for the third year in a row, this simple upgrade brought buyers the greatest returns on their investments; the resale value of a steel door upgrade averaged $1,252, a return of 101.8 percent. An upgraded front door makes a home seem well-cared for, a good first impression that will stay with a buyer throughout the rest of their viewing.

Garage Door Replacements
Thanks to their large size, garage doors are the focal points of many homes. Replacing a dated, non-functioning door with a new, more decorative one will attract buyers. But sellers would be wise to stick to their budgets. A mid-range garage door replacement with an average cost of $1,595 recouped sellers 88.5 percent of their investment. A more upscale garage door, averaging $2,944 to install, only had an 82.5 percent return on investment. While both upgrades made it on the shortlist of top five renovations, sellers who didn't over-improve for their area likely saw the biggest gains.

New Trends in Siding
Fiber cement siding has been popular for years, and 2015 was no exception. Replace your old siding with fiber cement and you'll recoup 84.3 percent of its cost. But when it comes to cladding your home, siding is no longer the biggest earner. Manufactured stone veneer, with an average cost of $7,150, is cheaper to install than fiber cement, a job which costs on average $13,378. Yet stone veneer recoups 92.2 percent of its initial cost at resale time. Stone veneer is well-suited to both modern and traditional home facades, making it a trend with staying power.

Indoor Improvements that Attract Buyers
While it failed to break into the list of top five investments, a minor kitchen remodel will still attract buyers. An economical renovation with an average cost of $19,226 will recover 79.3 percent of its initial cost. Other cost-conscious renovations include replacing older windows with new windows (wood)-recouping 78.8 percent-and adding an attic bedroom-recouping 77.2 percent.


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    Introducing NVBR's 2015 Realtor of the Year, Barb Trousdale - A Note from Curtis Trousdale

    I am proud as a husband can be that on May 19th, 2015, my wife (and business partner), Barb Trousdale, was awarded “REALTOR of the Year” at the 2015 REALTORS of Distinction Awards Gala. The most revered award presented at this annual event, Barb was recognized for her exemplary contributions to our community, her professional career, and the Vermont Realtors association. Her nomination and selection is indicative to the respect that other members of the Northwestern Vermont Board of Realtors have for Barb. 

    Prior to receiving her award, a short video was played for all in attendance, and the folks on camera who were interviewed all repeated the same word when talking about Barb: integrity. Barb sincerely values integrity; she strives to maintain it in all areas of her life. Loyal to her family, friends, colleagues, clients, customers, and God, Barb also upholds the National Association of REALTORS Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice to a “T.”

    Up on stage, Barb looked lovely in her black and white dress (and the corsage I bought her) as she accepted her award. Her speech was unscripted, genuine and short; she credited her success not only on her desire to have integrity in all she does, but also due to the support from family, friends, and God’s immense grace.

    I’m so proud that Barb’s peers recognize her hard work and commitment, and I am honored to have witnessed this milestone in her career along with 25 members of our family, and more than half of our staff at Preferred Properties.

    If you are contemplating buying or selling a home, or know someone who is, you can be confident in your decision to call Barb.

    Please feel free to congratulate Barb if you have the opportunity!

    -Curtis Trousdale