A reader: The kids have moved out.…. Finally! Now, I want to take their bathroom and make it my oasis. I don’t want to share with my husband anymore. One problem, I have never taken on a project like this before and don’t know where to start. Can you please give me some guidance?
Action Line: What a great way to celebrate becoming an empty nester! I applaud you for embracing this big event. Now let’s get started. Take your time when choosing a contractor. This is an expensive decision. Set a budget. Bathroom remodels can be fun but expensive if you are replacing everything. Make a list of the amenities you have been dreaming about. Get at least three bids from companies that you’d like to give you pricing. But before you invite them into your home, check them out. Go to bbb.org to see if they have any complaints or customer reviews. Then go to cslb.ca.gov and look to see if they have a valid license. Don’t forget to check to see if they have worker’s compensation insurance.
Here are some additional things you can do:
▪ Find out if this remodel will require a permit and confirm with the contractor that they will pull the permit.
▪ Make sure a contract includes all materials, labor, start/completion dates, description of the work, payment schedules, materials to be installed, promises/guarantees on workmanship, and manufacturer's guarantees. Be sure everything you will be paying for is in the contract. Make sure it is signed.
▪ A contractor can only request 10% or $1,000 of the project, whichever is less. Do not prepay any more than that.
▪ Only hire licensed contractors.
▪ If you feel pressured, walk away.
▪ Ask for references and actually check them.
▪ It is customary for some companies to file preliminary lien notices. Don't panic. Check with the supplier to see if they have been paid by the contractor to avoid a lien being placed on your home and you having to pay twice.
▪ Be aware that California law limits the period within which a complaint may be filed against a contractor to four years from the date when the act or omission occurred.
▪ Do not sign off on a completed job until all the work has been properly completed.
If you are not happy with the project you can always file a complaint with the BBB. BBB has a free complaint process for marketplace dispute between a consumer and a business. We always suggest you go back to the business and speak to someone in authority, but if that doesn’t work go to bbb.org
Good luck in creating your new oasis!
Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 2600 W. Shaw Lane, Fresno, CA 93711 or firstname.lastname@example.org.