Frequently Asked Questions

How do I make sure the contractor has insurance?

You simply request the contractor to show you their liability and worker's comp insurance. The contractor will have their insurance agent provide the paperwork.

How do I know the contractor does quality construction?

You should always ask the contractor for some referrals. The rule of thumb is three referrals. You should also ask the contractor how much experience they have in certain areas of construction. You can also ask the contractor if they can provide you with a portfolio of jobs they've done.

How much will my project cost?

It's important to get an estimate for the construction project that you are embarking on. If you get multiple estimates, you compare the estimates and ask questions about the differences. Once you accept a contractor's bid and sign a contract, you are both bound to that contract (unless there is something that makes the contract voidable) and the contractor has to honor his price, even if the contractor misbid the job.

What if the contractor doesn't finish the job?

This is why it's so important to go with a reputable contractor. If the contractor doesn't finish the job, then you are not obligated to pay any remaining money that is owed for the work that is incomplete. Sometimes it is necessary to take the contractor to court and have a judge order them to finish the work. You want to avoid messy court battles by hiring a reputable contractor in the first place.

How much do I typically have to pay upfront?

It depends on the size of the job. Smaller jobs usually require half upfornt and the rest when the job is finished to your satifaction. On bigger jobs, there are various payment methods that are usually referred to as draws. A medium sized job might have the customer pay a third upfront, a third halfway through, and the remaining third when the job is finished. Larger jobs can have four to five draws. Usually a construction loan for a home is four to five draws, where the bank pays the contractor after a certain amount of work has been completed.

What kind of warranty does the job come with?

It depends on the kind of work that is done. A warranty can be built into the contract that you and the contractor sign. The warranty should clearly spell out what is covered and what's not and how long the warranty is good for. A one year warranty is the minimum you should expect. New York State law requires the buyer have certain warranties when buying a new home.

  • One year's protection against faulty workmanship and defective materials.
  • Two year's protection against defective installation of the plumbing, electrical, heating, cooling and     ventilation systems.
  • Six year's protection against structural defects.

New York State Law 777-A Housing Merchant Implied Warranty

Will I need a building permit?

It depends on the construction project. Most construction projects will require a building permit. Your contractor should know whether the job requires a permit. If your contractor asks you to get the permit, that may be a read flag. This is something the contractor typically takes care of.

Aside from the legal requirements, why should I obtain a building permit?

A building permit assures that work is done correctly and safely. The permit fee is assurance against faulty construction. Also, there are legal and financial liabilities that you face when you don't get a permit. Work done without a permit is illegal and can pose serious complications for you when you try to sell or refinance your home. Your insurance may be invalidated if you do work without a permit.

What kinds of improvements get the best return on investment?

Reviewing your plans with a qualified general contractor will better help you assess your project's potential return on investment, as there are a lot of variables that go into the answer. A basic answer is adding additional living space (e.g. bedroom, bathroom) or doing a major renovation (e.g. kitchen) are home improvements that yeild a higher return on investment. Adding an addition, depending on the design and whether you are over developing for the neighborhood, can give you a great return on investment.

If you are planning a major renovation or addition and are concerned about your return on investment, it's also a good idea to speak with your local realtor and/or appraiser. They can give you some more insight on property values and whether or not you'd be over developing your property compared to the neighborhood property norms.

How long does it take to build a house?

It really depends on the complexity of the project. Usually it takes anywhere from three to four months to build the average new home.

What makes a kitchen renovation more or less expensive?

Cabinets account for about half the total cost of the project and will have the greatest impact on your budget. They range in price considerably based on quality, the type of material used, and whether they are stock (available sizes already manufactured) or custom (specifically built for your kitchen in whatever sizes you request).

What makes a bathroom renovation more or less expensive?

There really is no one element that comprises a significantly higher cost of the project. However, things like the cabinetry and fixtures and fittings will account for a high percentage of the cost in the bathroom. Expense for fixtures and fittings will vary depending on the brand, type of materials, and product selection.

Have more questions? No problem, contact us and we'd be happy to answer all of your questions.