If you've decided to hire a professional remodeler, Kenneth Klein, chairman of the Remodelers Council of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), says: Take your time and gather names and references of several remodelers. Look for contractors who have done satisfactory work of a similar nature for neighbors or friends. Get several customer references from each remodeler. Check them out by telephone or go in person to see the work.
Ask if the contractor is licensed and insured. Check his financial stability. Call his bank and suppliers and the Better Business Bureau.
Be suspicious of door-to-door salespeople who use high-pressure tactics and enticements and pitch a special price. The most common mistake homeowners make in shopping for best price is obtaining bids that really are not comparable. Get estimates in writing and compare design plans, grade and quantity of materials, brand of appliances or products, and length of time projected to complete the job. Avoid an abnormally low bid: It may be an underestimate or involve inferior materials.
Choose a remodeler with whom you can communicate and freely exchange ideas.
Above all, get everything in writing. Your contract should specify the responsibilities and obligations of both parties, list quality and quantity of materials, styles and brand names, and set a firm price for the work and a payment schedule. It should also include any items of work not to be performed.
The NAHB Remodelors Council (15th and M Streets, NW, Washington, D.C. 20005) offers a free brochure called ``How To Choose A Remodeler Who's On the Level.''