Members of the Utah Valley Home Builders Association are expected to abide by a strict code of ethics and follow the highest professional standards. The UVHBA checks out potential members to protect the public. Because of this, start your search for a builder by checking the UVHBA’s membership (uvhba.com/directory).
However, looking at a member of the HBA will only get you part way there. Here is a 14-point checklist for homeowners when deciding on a builder or remodeler.
1. Make sure the builder or home remodeler has an office and a good reputation with local banks and suppliers. Ask for bank, supplier, and trade references and call them.
2. Get to know the way the builder does business. Find out what systems he uses and how often you will be updated about the progress of your job.
3. Find out how long they have been in business. You want to make sure they will be around after the construction is complete to service any warranties.
4. Make sure the builder/remodeler is properly licensed and they are disciplinary action free. Check by visiting https://secure.utah.gov/llv/search/index.html.
5. Are they members of a trade organization? Check out the company’s membership status and if there have been any complaints filed with Utah Valley Home Builders Association (uvhba.com) and/or local Better Business Bureau (bbb.org).
6. Make sure the builder/remodeler has sufficient workers compensation and general liability insurance. If not, you may be liable for any construction-related accidents on your premises. Make sure their insurance limits are adequate to meet or exceed your project.
7. Ask the builder/remodeler to provide you with names of previous customers. If they won’t, beware. If they do, ask the customers if they would hire the builder/remodeler again.
8. Ask if you can see the builder/remodelers work, both completed and in progress. Check for quality of workmanship and materials.
9. Do you feel you can easily communicate with the builder/remodeler? Remember you will be in close contact with them throughout the construction process and afterward as you live in your new home.
10. Make sure the builder/remodeler provides you with a complete and clearly written contract. The contract will benefit both of you. If you are having a new home built, get and review a copy of the home warranty and homeowner manual, if applicable, as well. The contract should set up his role and your role.
11. Be cautious of unusually low-priced bids. If the builder/remodeler is unable to pay for the materials and labor as the project proceeds, this may indicate a potential problem. Less expensive does not necessarily mean better. You will get what you pay for.
12. Interview more than one builder, but limit the number of builders you get bids from to three. The level of detail and care that will go into your estimate will usually be reflective of the chance that the builder has to win the bid. If you have too many builders look at the job, you may get several “junk bids” from builders who don’t believe they have a fighting chance to win the work. Remember also that each builder will likely have as many as 100 subcontractors or more look at your project — don’t waste everyone’s time by getting too many estimates.
13. Verify that your remodeler is an EPA Lead-Safe Certified Renovator if you are planning work in a pre-1978 home that will disturb more than six square feet of painted surfaces inside the home and/or 20 square feet on the exterior paint surface of the home. Learn more about the EPA’s lead paint rule by going to airquality.utah.gov/HAPs/lead/index.htm.
14. Does your contractor take continuing education classes beyond state requirements?