Buying an Existing Home and Making It Yours

While house hunting in Houston, you and your spouse have found the perfect home – it’s well situated close to a high-rated school district, it’s within a decent commute to your work and a nice pool and landscaped backyard really made a lasting impression. The home will require some remodeling but not enough to stop you from moving in, and it’s available for immediate occupancy. Find out more in this section about the best ways to find a remodeling contractor, the questions to ask when interviewing a contractor and what to include in the remodeling contract. Also find out what remodeling projects in Houston provide the best return on investment.

According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) (, the remodeling market is a $275 billion industry and is expected to continue to experience significant growth. It is estimated that more than 1 million homes per year undergo major renovation or remodeling.

Select a Professional, Reliable, Remodeling Contractor
Finding a qualified professional remodeling contractor for your home improvement project doesn’t have to be a difficult task. By following these guidelines recommended and prepared by NARI, you will be better prepared to make an informed decision that best suits your needs.
Employ a home improvement contractor with an established business in your area. Local firms can be checked through references from past customers in your community or through your local better business bureau. Local remodelers are compelled to perform quality work that satisfies their customers for their business to survive.
  • In Texas, a builder or a remodeler may not construct new homes or engage in remodeling projects that change the living area of the home or that cost more than $10,000 for interior renovations in Texas without first registering with the Texas Residential Construction Commission ( In addition to obtaining information about the builder or remodeler, the commission determines the physical location (address) of each builder or remodeler. The review of the registration application includes a background check for a designated individual who serves as the registered agent for the builder or the remodeler. The commission aggressively pursues administrative actions against builders and remodelers who fail to follow statutory and regulatory requirements. The majority of commission actions are the result of complaints received from consumers.
  • Ask the remodeling contractor for a current copy of his license.
  • Check with the government Consumer Affairs Office and the Better Business Bureau to ensure there are no complaints on record for the contractor. In Houston, Better Business Bureau can be reached at 713-868-9500 (
  • Ask to see a copy of the remodeling contractor’s certification of insurance for the name of his or her insurance agency to verify coverage. Most states require a contractor to carry worker’s compensation, property damage and personal liability insurance. Make sure the contractor’s insurance coverage meets all the minimum requirements.
  • If you solicit bids from several different home improvement contractors, be sure they are bidding on the same scope and quality of work. Discuss variations in bids and beware of any bid that is substantially lower than the others.

What are the questions to ask potential contractors?
Timing and money are the most common questions a home improvement contractor hears, but during an interview, homeowners should be asking about credentials and verifying business practices. Instead, what is often heard is, “When can you start? When will it be finished? How much will it cost?”

These simply aren’t enough. Yes, timing may be “everything” in comedy, but that certainly isn’t the case when it comes to remodeling. If you are going to have a successful remodeling project, you need to learn the right questions to ask and how to ask them.

Start by asking questions about a company’s business practices and experience in a similar type of project. If you decide you want to hire a particular remodeling contractor, then you can discuss when he or she can start, what time he or she can knock on your door each morning and when you will have your home to yourselves again.

Here are more questions:
  • How long have you been in business?
  • Who will be assigned as project supervisor for the job?
  • Who will be working on the project? Are they employees or subcontractors?
  • Does your company carry worker’s compensation and liability insurance? (Always verify this information by calling the agency.) A copy of an insurance certificate does not let you know if the policy is still current. Even if the certificate has an expiration date, you cannot tell if the insurance has been canceled by either party. If licensing is required in your state also ask if the contractor is licensed and call to verify compliance with the law. Not all states offer or require licensing. Check with your local or state government agencies.
  • What is your approach to a project such as this?
  • How many projects like mine have you completed in the past year?
  • Can you provide a list of reference from those projects?
  • Can you provide a list of business referrals or suppliers?
  • What percentage of your business is repeat or referral business?
  • Are you a member of a national trade association?
  • Have you or your employees been certified in remodeling or had any special training or education, such as earning a Certified Remodeler (CR), Certified Remodeler Specialist (CRS) or Certified Lead Carpenter (CLC) or Certified Kitchen & Bath Remodeler (CKBR) designation?

It’s also important to realize that sometimes it’s not the answers you get that are significant, but what you don’t get. Asking the right questions is not enough. You need to pay attention to your instincts and to what information is missing.

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