While the majority of contractors are honest professionals, it is still important for homeowners to be aware of possible scammers, frauds or swindlers when hiring a contractor before undergoing a remodel. Consumers should be wary of contractors who ask for money upfront. According to the Better Business Bureau, contractors who say they need a significant percentage of the project price in advance are more likely to disappear with the money or do sub-par work with the impression they can’t be fired as they are already in possession of most of their payment. Ten percent of the job total or $1,000, whichever is less, is enough to establish someone as a serious customer and have the contractor work them into their schedule.

In addition, homeowners should never just take the word of a contractor: get everything in a legal contract. Details on specifications, upgrades and extra touches should all be included in the contract; otherwise, the contractor is under no legal obligation to include them in the finished project.

Chat with homeowners who recently worked with a remodeling contractor about questions they wish they had asked beforehand. Speak with REALTORS® in your area about recommendations and advice they give clients looking to remodel a home. And remember…if the contractor for your project tells you something that’s too good to be true, it probably is! Check out HouseLogic’s "How to Not Look Like a Clueless Homeowner" (houselogic.com) spotlight for more information that first-time homeowners don’t know they don’t know.

House to House is distributed weekly by the Arkansas REALTORS® Association. For more information on homeownership in Arkansas, readers may visit www.ArkansasRealtors.com.