Ask an expert - JEFF KIDA, CERTIFIED REMODELER
Last updated 1/24/2024 at 2:50pm | View PDF
How can homeowners avoid remodeling woes?
Hiring someone to complete a home improvement project can be an exciting step for any homeowner. But to ensure the work is done right, the consumer has some work to do, too, said Jeff Kida, a certified remodeler and owner of DDS Design Services LLC of Hinsdale.
A remodeler for more than 20 years, Kida said much of his work involves kitchen and bath remodels for architects and general contractors.
"They need someone with design experience, cabinet experience and sometimes some building experience, as well," said Kida.
While there are plenty of talented designers and skilled remodelers in the Hinsdale market, homeowners must beware of scammers and opportunists, Kida said. To avoid such unpleasant encounters, he suggests talking to family and friends who have been through a home improvement project. Once a potential remodeler has been identified, ask for references and take the time to call them, Kida said.
"If someone is unwilling to give you references, that's a big red flag," he said.
A quality remodeler should be able to present the homeowner with a detailed budget, a plan that includes material choices and a timeline before the first hammer is swung, Kida said. It is appropriate for a designer to expect payment for a set of initial plans, which can take many hours to complete. But someone who is too eager to get a check up front should be handled with caution.
He also urges caution when encountering someone who is willing to do work at a price much lower than their competitors. The individual might be setting the homeowner up for a scam or underbidding the job, which can lead to unexpected costs and an unhappy outcome.
Just as there are red flags to look for, there also are signs that a remodeler is a good choice for the job.
"Look for a certain willingness to give back to their profession," said Kida, who has been a member of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry for 14 years and serves as chairman for the NARI of Greater Chicago Chapter. He also serves his community as a member of the Hinsdale Rotary Club Board.
Kida encourages homeowners to visit http://www.narichicago.org for a list of member professionals, all of whom agree to a code of ethics.
Anyone hired for a job should be licensed and insured, Kida said. After asking to see a certificate of insurance, Kida said the homeowner should ask to be named as "also insured" on the policy. It costs the remodeler nothing but offers extra protection for the homeowner.
While it's possible to do work without pulling the proper permits, Kida doesn't advise it.
"It doesn't really pay not to pull a permit in the long run," he said.
Finally, Kida encourages homeowners to go into a project with realistic expectations. Shiny showrooms and carefully edited television shows and magazine articles don't tell the whole story.
"You don't see what happened to get to that point," he said, and projects are almost never as quick, easy or inexpensive as they look on television.
- by Sandy Illian Bosch