Catch That Contractor

2013-09-14T00:00:00Z Catch That ContractorMadhusmita Bora nwitimes.com
September 14, 2013 12:00 am  • 

In many markets, homebuyers are investing money on new roofs, kitchen makeovers and brand new bathrooms. So much so that contractors are turning down new business because their schedules are full.

“It’s really picking up,” says Dan Fritschen, CEO and cofounder of Planese, Inc., which provides a mobile app with tools to plan and organize a home remodel.

Home improvement projects, excluding rental, vacant and seasonal residential improvements, totaled $330 billion this year, according to Fritschen’s calculation of U.S. Census data. Though that’s only about half of $600 billion spent during the pre-recession period, the number shows quite a leap from $230 billion spent at the height of recession in 2009.

What’s interesting is homeowners are embarking on bigger projects, hiring contractors rather than doing the work themselves, Fritschen says.

Beth Peterson Blei, who co-owns Revise Studio, a Philadelphia-based general contracting/interior design studio, says business has really picked up in the last year.

“People are still tentative about buying a home and they are staying where they are and upgrading what they have,” she says.

That trend will continue next year, according to a leading indicator of remodeling work created by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

These tips from Blei and Fritschen will help you find the right contractor:

• Interview multiple prospects: Interview at least 10 contractors and have three to five estimates before choosing someone you are comfortable with. Compatibility is a big issue. Learn how to interview a contractor and have a good idea of your budget and plan.

• Check for references, license and insurance: A true professional should be happy to provide the proof and connect you with previous clients for referrals. Also, check with former employers for recommendations.

• Research the estimated cost of projects: RemodelorMove.com provides calculators that can show the cost of do-it-yourself projects and for homeowners who plan to hire a contractor. You will also get an estimate of how much a home price will appreciate because of a remodel.

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