by Rob Hellyer and Elizabeth Koval

Anyone can become a remodeler in Texas even though they may not own a tool or have ever known anyone that owns a tool. Texas law does not require or have any certifications for remodelers. Avoiding the pitfalls of doing home improvements should start with a thorough examination of the people you are looking to hire and clearly define the scope of the work you want done on paper.

When doing due diligence on the persons or companies bidding on the work, you should check out the obvious resources such as the Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List and possibly Yelp. Yelp is a user generated site like wikipedia and does a fair job of policing itself, however there can be a lot of misinformation on Yelp. Businesses have been known to pay writers to post positive things about their business. Yelp should never be your sole source for making a remodeling decision.

Eighty per cent of all new businesses fail within the first five years. In the remodeling industry it is closer to ninety percent. It is important to check out the remodeler’s client references and their business references because if they are not paying their bills that should be a red flag. If a mistake is made in hiring the wrong person most remodelers are hesitant to come in behind a remodeler that has failed due to the liability that he or she might incur. So doing your due diligence will go a long way in improving your comfort level and odds for a successful project.

Once you have decided who is best suited for your project it is time to clearly define that scope of work. If you have selected three prospects and are going to shop price make sure each person is bidding on the same project put down on paper the work for your project to insure you are comparing apples to apples.

Once you have selected a remodeler you may want to meet with your interior designer and the remodeler to make sure you are all on the same page. Always start with an existing floor plan and create drawings preferably using a 3D model to give a better idea of what the finished product will look like. When trying to select the scope of the work to be done it is important to bring photos from idea books or maybe the website Houzz is a good place to start.

When trying to determine what is the best plan for your remodel it is important to find out where you live and interact in the house. Usually a questionnaire will help in determining a design that is functional for your living needs. Where do your kitchen items go and what about ventilation and whether you have kids and what you may need down the road are all things that should be addressed when making decisions. This is what designers are for.

Once you have a plan then you need to make product selections. When doing kitchens and bathrooms it is important to select the granite or marble or whatever you are using for counter tops first. Cabinetry and appliances are generally the next selections. Don’t skimp on these items. There are reputable companies that supply these to make sure it is exactly what you want. You must be licensed to install appliances. Then there are plumbing and fixtures to select. Tiles and flooring and moldings come next and last, but not least lighting. Lighting can be a very important feature in your new space. Have a running total for each of the line items which includes a description size and cost.

Having a reputable designer and remodeler will help you with permitting and making sure your project will not disrupt your home more than necessary. Remodeling is a serious undertaking , but you should have fun with it.

Rob Hellyer is President of Premier Remodeling, 2010 and 2011 “Remodeler of the Year” by the Greater Houston Remodelers Council. Elizabeth Koval of Elizabeth Koval Desin, a full service interior design firm.