Choosing the right Builder Remodeler

Questions to ask a Remodeler, Builder or Contractor in Home Remodeling

choosing the right builder, remodeler, contractor for lexington, home remodelingFinding a Lexington or Owensboro home remodeling contractor who’s right for you is not as simple as picking up the Yellow Pages.  Did you know that most people spend more time shopping and buying a car than they spend on choosing a remodeling company.

1)    Are you licensed? Most states, yes Lexington & Owensboro, KY., require contractors, even sub-contractors to be licensed. Make sure your contractor is properly licensed. Anyone can say they are licensed. If a contractor cannot produce a valid license, DO NOT HIRE HIM! This will save you more than you know.

2)    Do you carry general liability insurance?  Make sure your contractor carries general liability insurance. This type of insurance protects your property in case of damage caused by the contractor and/or his employees. The insurance company will pay for the cost of replacing, &/or repairing any damage that occurs.  Make the contractor prove it by having a certificate of insurance.

3)    Do you carry workers’ compensation insurance? Make sure your contractor carries workers’ compensation insurance. It protects you from liability if a worker is injured while on your property.  Be aware that if the contractor does not carry workers’ compensation coverage, you may be liable for any injuries suffered by the contractor, or any of his employees on your property.  If the contractor is a one-man operation, he can be exempt from having to carry workers’ compensation insurance. If he is doing so legally, he can provide you with a copy of his Construction Industry Certificate of Exemption from Workers’ Compensation. This is very risky for you though. If he shows up with a helper and the helper gets hurt, with no workers’ compensation insurance, you may have to pay the medical bills. If the uninsured contractor is sloppy about verifying his sub-contractor’s workers’ compensation insurance and the sub-contractor gets hurt, again you may have to pay the medical bills.  Bottom line, keep your investment safe & protected.

4)    Do you use sub-contractors and do you use a sub-contractor agreement?  This is EXTREMELY important, because you do not know these folks and sometimes do not meet them until it is time for them to do their part of the project.  Ask how long has the sub-contractor worked with the company.  Ask how the company verifies the sub-contractors insurance and if they use a sub-contractor agreement.  A sub-contractor agreement protects you and the company, ask for a copy.

5)    Are you a member of NARI or NAHB? NARI stands for the National Association of the Remodeling Industry and NAHB stands for the National Association of Home Builders. It’s always a good idea to consider hiring a NARI or NAHB contractor. In most cases, both organizations only attract conscientious contractors interested in bettering the industry and in weeding out unprofessional contractors. In order to become a member, the contractor’s background and references are thoroughly investigated.

6)    Are you a member of the BBB?  BBB stands for the Better Business Bureau.  The BBB goal is to foster a fair and effective marketplace, so that buyers and sellers can trust each other (“Start With Trust”). Many BBB services can be accessed online through their website.  BBBs gather and report information on business reliability, alert the public to frauds against consumers and businesses, provide information on ethical business practices, and act as mutually trusted intermediaries between consumers & businesses to resolve dispute.  ALWAYS check any company out here 1st.

7)    Do you guarantee your work? The contractor should guarantee his work for at least one year from date of completion. They should also include any warranties from the material used if applicable.

8)    Who will be in charge of the job? Make sure the contractor or his crew is on the job whenever work is being performed-especially if sub-contractors will be used, unless it has been communicated that the sub-contractors do not need to be supervised.  In some cases, sub-contractors come to do work with out a company representative present.  If you want the contractor or one of the crew there at all times, expect to pay for this service. The responsible party must be familiar with every aspect of your project. You cannot be worried about what is going on when you are not there.

9)    Will you provide me with written references? A good contractor will be happy to provide you with references. You should look for a well-established contractor who can give you several client (customer) references.

10)   How do you handle “dirty work”? Construction is dusty and dirty! It gets everywhere, especially if any sanding is being done. Make sure the contractor will make an honest effort to keep the dust contained, or notify you when the heavy dust generating operations will take place so you can place sheets over furniture or move sensitive belongings. Make sure the contractor agrees to sweep up & place all construction debris in a predetermined place at the end of every day.

11)    What else should I think about in doing a project like this?  Any good contractor will have at least 1 or multiple “Pre-Construction Meetings”.  These meetings should outline things like; gaining access to the site, dust, hours of work, pets, children, breaks, lunch time, staging of material, parking, preparing the space (what do I need to pack up, what will you move), conduct of workers, smoking issues, etc…

12)   How long will a project like this take?

13)   How many projects like this have you done in the past?  Will they let you visit past projects and talk with those clients?

14)   Can I see your vehicle?  This sounds weird, but if the inside of the contractor’s vehicle is trashed, it might be an indication of what your project will be like during the process.

15)   Bottom line?  Do you feel comfortable with this company?  Go with your gut.  A strong rapport and close communication with your remodeler will help make any job go well.  Home Remodeling & Building is a very personal process. The contractor you hire will be part of your home life for several weeks or months, so it’s important to make sure that your personalities work well together.

Contact Us for any further questions or thoughts on hiring the right professional for you project.

How to Speak “Home Remodeling”

how to speak remodeling in lexington, and central kentucky

Home Remodeling in Lexington Kentucky and Central Kentucky can be a challenge, especially if a contractor is speaking a different language.

Whether it’s a small cosmetic remodel such as replacing bathroom fixtures, bathroom remodel, kitchen remodel, room addition, or a deck, finishing a basement, or even a major whole house remodel – understanding the terminology that your professional remodeler is using can be very helpful to ensure you receive the finished project that you envision. 

As you interview potential contractors, this glossary of common terms used by builders and remodelers will help you understand the language of your remodeling project — and it will help you avoid miscommunication with your contractor.

Allowance: A specific dollar amount allocated by a contractor for specified items in a contract for which the brand, model number, color, size or other details are not yet known.

Bid: A proposal to work for a certain amount of money, based on plans and specifications for the project.

Building Permit: A document issued by a governing authority, such as a city or county building department, granting permission to undertake a construction project.

Call-back: An informal term for a return visit by the contractor to repair or replace items the home owner has found to be unsatisfactory or that require service under the warranty.

Certified Graduate Remodeler (CGR): A professional designation program offered through the National Association of Home Builders Remodelers Council™. To attain the CGR designation, a remodeler must take a specified number of continuing education courses and comply with a strict code of ethics.

Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS): CAPS professionals have learned strategies and techniques to meet the home modification needs of home owners who want to continue living in their homes safely, independently and comfortably regardless of age or ability level. CAPS graduates pledge to uphold a code of ethics and are required to maintain their designation by attending education programs and participating in community service.

Change Order: This is written authorization to the contractor to make a change or addition to the work described in the original contract. The change order should reflect any changes in cost.

Cost-plus Contract: A contract between a contractor and home owner that is based on the accrued cost of labor and materials plus a percentage for profit and overhead — also known as a time-and-materials contract.

Draw: A designated payment that is “drawn” from the total project budget to pay for services completed to date. A draw schedule is typically established in the contract.

Lien Release: A document that voids the legal right of a contractor, subcontractor or supplier to place a lien against your property. A lien release assures you that the remodeler has paid subcontractors and suppliers in full for labor and materials.

Mechanic’s Lien: A lien obtained by an unpaid subcontractor or supplier through the courts. When enforced, real property — such as your home — can be sold to pay the subcontractor or supplier. If a subcontractor or supplier signed a lien release, then this lien cannot be enforced.

Plans and Specifications: These are drawings for the project, and a detailed list or description of the known products, materials, quantities and finishes to be used.

Punch List: A list of work items to be completed or corrected by the contractor, typically near or at the end of a project.

Subcontractor: A person or company hired directly by the contractor to perform specialized work at the job site — sometimes referred to as a trade contractor.

If you’re still looking for ways to “speak the remodeling language” with your contractor, check out one of our more recent articles here.

Renovating vs Remodeling vs Restoring


Are you familiar with the terms “renovating” and “remodeling” and “restoring”? Do you know the difference(s) between these real estate terms?

If you are a homeowner, you need to know. If you are working with a real estate professional, such as a home appraiser to perhaps tap into the increased equity in your home, be sure to tell your appraiser about any/all recent changes to your home, so s/he can incorporate those changes into the value of your property.

Let’s examine each term separately. 

Renovating” is a rather specific term, literally meaning “to make new again.” The term is (or should be) applied to cosmetic changesnew kitchen faucets, counter-tops or cabinet handles, interior paint…these are all examples of renovations. Renovations don’t normally require any structural work, and they are almost always less expensive and less time-consuming than remodeling.

Remodeling” means “to change the structure.” If you add carpeting, siding, and a ceiling to your basement (effectively making it a finished basement), that’s remodeling. An addition to your property is remodeling. When it comes to making changes like wiring, plumbing—or any sort of remodeling for that matterit’s important to let your real estate appraiser know every detail. Maybe the new paint isn’t as obviousand the wiring/plumbing is definitely not as obviousyet they are still expensive changes that can significantly impact the value of your home.

Restoration” and “renovation” are sort of opposites. Instead of renovating something older to make it look more modern, you restore it, making it look completely original. Put another way, you can perform an historic restoration, but not a historic renovationthat would be a contradiction in terms. Classic examples of restoration include: refinishing old wooden surfaces (wood moulding, wood paneling, built-ins, etc.); re-painting chipped or faded paint the same color of its original state; re-installing an original slate roof; or restoring double-pane windows back to single-pane. IMPORTANT NOTE: If your property is in an historic district, there may be mandatory codes that require restoration.

Each of these projects (renovating, remodeling, and restoring) involve great care and special attention to details. Attention to detail is what J&R Construction prides itself. We work with carefully and closely our clients to create that perfect dream space. We communicate in detail every step of the process along the way, so you are completely comfortable and confident and actually “Enjoy The Process.”

Call J&R Construction for all of your Residential needs!!



Which Home Renovations Add Value?


While contemplating a home remodeling project, have you wondered which home renovations arguably add the most value to your property? Based on J&R Construction’s experience in the industry, our clients’ projects typically fall into one of the following main categories:


1. Home Additions Home additions clearly increase a property’s livable square footage. Such an increase, if designed well, not only increases your home’s square footage, it also increases your home’s market value.


2. Bathroom Upgrades While upgrades to fixtures provide a clean, updated look, these upgrades can also result in energy-savings and convenience. Too, modern safety devices and features like grab bars, no-step shower entries, and built-in shower benches can be seamlessly incorporated into the design in order to maximize liveability. These are especially important for those seeking an “Aging-in-Place” design.


3. Kitchen Upgrades For many J&R Construction clients, kitchens are more than simply food preparation and storage places. Kitchens are gathering places for entertaining family and friends.With all of the latest appliance designs, many kitchen conveniences and features can be easily incorporated into the design, such as whisper-quiet dishwashers, commercial-style ranges, energy-efficient lighting solutions, and custom islands with pop-up outlets that can also charge hand-held electronic devices.


4. Outdoor Living Spaces Speaking of entertainment of family and friends, adding an outdoor living space creates a warm and inviting destination for get-togethers. A screened-in patio or porch makes for a wonderful additional entertaining area.


J&R Construction prides itself in quality of workmanship to make all of these renovation projects a reality for our clients.