If anyone knows how to find, hire, and establish a relationship with remodeling contractors, it's Dave Lupberger. We met years ago when we were both designing and remodeling homes in the Washington, D.C. area. He is now an industry consultant, and author of the Turn-Key System for Remodelers program and The Emotional Homeowner. Through his company, Remodelers Advantage, Dave works with remodeling contractors across the country.

Expert Advice from a Contractor: David Lupberger

Finding the perfect remodeler.

Here are some simple steps to take to find the right remodeler for your home:

  • Drive around your neighborhood. Most remodelers will post signs promoting their services in front of homes they are working on. Knock on the door and speak with the homeowner. I know of no better source of high-quality referrals than a happy homeowner, so the better remodeler will work hard to leave a legacy of satisfied customers. And you'll find that visting remodeling projects is an excellent source of design ideas.
  • Talk to friends, or friends of friends. Be bold! The more people you ask, including colleagues at work, clubs, professional organizations, charities, or service organizations, the more names you'll be able to gather. Be sure the people have personal experience with the remodeler they recommend. Six to twelve months after a job has been completed on their home is the best time to ask questions. During that interval their remodelers will have responded to some warranty item claims — an excellent test of their reliability and professionalism. Many folks are overflowing with information from this once-in-a-lifetime experience and are full of stories they want to share.
  • Yellow pages. You can use the phone book, but are you willing to spend thousands of dollars based on a random lead you get?
  • Contact the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Remodelers Council at 800-368-5242 ext. 216. The NAHB has published three consumer information brochures in a series:
    • Remodeling Your Home: How to Find a Professional Remodeler
    • Understanding Your Remodeling Agreement
    • How to Live with Your Remodeling Project

These can all be purchased from the NAHB bookstore for $3 each. The purpose of NAHB is to promote professionalism and image within the remodeling industry, therefore association members are more reliable than remodelers who are not members.

  • Call the local National Association of Remodeling Industry (NARI), 800-611-NARI (6274) or email info@nari.org.Ask for the most recent NARI Home Remodeling Guide that will list industry members in your area. Like NAHB, this association can provide you with more dependable qualified "green" remodelers than the Yellow Pages; in fact, NARI members must attend a training seminar to pass a final exam to qualify as a NARI-certified green builder.
  • Get a copy of Green Spec. If you live in a remote community, you may have difficulty finding a green building remodeler. However, this book details specifications for building green, like using only certified wood, using solar energy, or recycling at least 50% to 80% of construction waste. Include in the contract that renovation plans will adhere to these specifications.