Trying to find a Professional Remodeler?

Written by Cathy N. Robinson, Director of Communications – Michigan Association of Home Builders

NSING, MI — If you own a home, no matter what its age, sooner or later you may join the millions of people who remodel their homes each year.  The reasons for remodeling are as varied as the projects themselves, but generally we choose to remodel to add comfort, convenience, space and, ultimately, value to our homes. If you are like many other home owners across the country who have undertaken a remodeling project, you had to make many decisions related to the project.  Details like what kind of project you want to do, how you will use this space and how much money you are willing to spend must be thought out and communicated to your contractor to avoid any confusion down the road.  So, how do you go about finding a remodeler to do your project?

Finding a remodeler who is right for you will take some time and planning, but it is worth the effort when you are satisfied with the completed project.

To begin your search:

Get referrals from friends, family, neighbors and coworkers who have had remodeling work done and ask them if they would hire the remodeler again.

Contact local trade associations such as your area’s local home builders association and Remodelers™ Council for a list of their members.

In Michigan, all contractors offering to do work which totals $600 or more in labor and materials MUST be licensed by the Department of Labor and Economic Growth.  A Residential Builders license allows a contractor to build a complete residential structure and to do maintenance and alteration (remodeling) work on a residential structure.  The trades for which a maintenance and alteration contractor is qualified to practice are listed on the license.

The holder’s state license MUST be displayed in the place of business and all contractors and their salespersons MUST carry a pocket card which you should ask to see.  If they cannot show you a license, check the License Information database or call the Verification Unit at (517) 241-9288.

When you begin to interview a remodeler, keep in mind that you are buying a service rather than a product.  The quality of service the remodeler provides will determine the quality of the finished project and your satisfaction with it.  Take a look at there modeler’s business and management experience.

Does the remodeler have a trustworthy reputation in the community, with previous customers and with local building supply companies?

Ask for and check references. Does the remodeler carry insurance that protects you from claims arising from property damage or jobsite injuries?

Is the remodeler an active participant in a trade organization such as the Remodelers Council of the local home builders association, Michigan Association of Home Builders, or National Association of Home Builders?  Membership in the Remodelers Council indicates a remodeler’s commitment to professional-quality construction that meets or exceeds industry standards and practices.

Is the remodeler accredited in a certification program such as the Certified Graduate Remodeler (CGR) program?  Remodelers bearing the CGR credentials indicate that they have met a prescribed set of educational requirements and follow a strict code of business and professional ethics.

In addition to business and management experience, look at the remodeler’s construction and technical expertise, customer service and communication skills.

Does the remodeler have a working knowledge of the many types of homes in your area?

Does the remodeler offer an array of options for your project thus demonstrating a knowledge of and experience with a variety of products, materials and techniques?

Does the remodeler listen to you and understand your needs and wants with the project?

Will the remodeler provide you with scheduled updates so that you can make appropriate decisions and prepare for any inconveniences? Finding a remodeler who is right for you is not as simple as picking up the yellow pages of your phone book.  It takes time to interview and select a contractor who will best suit your needs and the needs of your project.

Filing a Complaint

The Department of Labor and Economic Growth’s Enforcement Division at the State of Michigan is responsible for the investigation of complaints filed against persons or businesses regulated by the Bureau of Commercial Services and the prosecution of violations, if supported by sufficient evidence.  The Division works very closely with the Licensing Division to determine if regulatory, administrative or other actions should be taken against a person or business.  The complaint process begins by visiting the Division’s website or by contacting the office by telephone at (517) 241-9202.

Your complaint should include copies of any contracts, price quotations, proof of payment for work, notes you may have taken, written documentation of any estimates for repair, and any other documents you received from the contractor.

When filing a complaint against a builder or remodeler you must request a signed Building Inspection Report from the local building Code Enforcement Official to verify poor workmanship or building code violations.

For complaints against an unlicensed builder or remodeler, contact the Attorney General’s office:
Office of the Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
PO Box 30212
Lansing, MI  48909
(877) 765-8388 (toll free in Michigan)

To be sure you are hiring a quality remodeling professional, contact your local home builders association or the Michigan Association of Home Builders at (800) 748-0432.  You will find a complete listing of the local home builders associations throughout Michigan on the Michigan Association of Home Builders website at

Prepared by Cathy N. Robinson, Director of Communications, Michigan Association of Home Builders, 1627 S. Creyts Rd., Lansing, MI  48917