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How to Save Money on Home Improvement

  • Take your time.Unless it’s an emergency such as a leaky roof, plan ahead at least three months out.Invest more time in order to save money. Research what needs to be done and what materials are recommended, depending on the type of job and the quality that you need.
  • Get personal recommendations from friends, family and neighbors who have had recent work done. This is a good way to gather information about contractors who can do the job.Choose 5 or 6 names that sound worth checking into.
  • Don’t cut corners by hiring unlicensed or unregistered workers. You could lose thousands of dollars if you skip this important step.
  • Check with the Department of Consumer Protection at www.ct.gov/dcp to be sure each of the names on your list are registered as home improvement contractors in Connecticut.Anyone who is not registered should be scratched off your list.
  • Talk in detail to at least three contractors about the job before asking them for a quote. Get their recommendations and be sure to get a specific list of what materials they would recommend.Ask to see certificates that prove they’re covered for worker's compensation, property damage, and personal liability.Ask them if they can handle the work on your timetable, and request the names and numbers of a few of their satisfied customers. 
  • Call references to check whether they were happy with the contractors and note any problem areas. If possible, visit past clients' homes to see the contractor's work first hand. 
  • Find out if generic products of the same quality can be substituted for name brands. Patents expire all the time, and name brand items that used to cost top dollar may be available under another name from a different company.Ask the contractors for their experience or suggestions about new lower price products that will provide the same quality at a lower price.
  • Get written, detailed quotes from three of the registered contractors on your list.All three bids should be based on exactly the same plans, specifications and materials. Don't jump for the lowest bid--this could be an indicator of inexperience or desperation on the contractor's part. In general, if a bid looks too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Ask to see materials priced out separately from labor in the quotes.This will give you a better idea about how the costs are distributed.You and your contractor may then want to negotiate over some of the specifics.You could offer to pay for special order items directly with the seller, if it will save you money. 
  • Check the contractor’s insurance before signing a contract. If a worker gets hurt on your property and your contractor is underinsured or uninsured, it will cost you plenty.Before you sign a contract, check his or her contractor's license and also ask for the name of the insurance carrier and agency so you can check the coverage.
  • Work out a detailed payment schedule and include it in the written contract. You should schedule payments in three or four installments, and the amount of each payment should be written in the signed contract. Don’t pay a lot of money up front, and don’t pay in advance for work that has not yet been completed. If a home contractor says he needs all or most of the money upfront, don’t work with this contractor, or proceed only with extreme caution; he may be in financial trouble himself.
  • Get signed lien waivers from all subcontractors.Protect your property and your finances. Ask your contractor if he will be subcontracting out any work.  If so, be sure to have each and every supplier and subcontractor sign a waiver of lien rights against your property. This will protect you in the event that the contractor fails to pay the subcontractor  for any reason.Without this waiver, any subcontractor or supplier hired by your contractor could file a lien against your property if they aren’t paid.
  • Understand your warranties.Understand that workmanship warranties are good only if in writing, and the writing is only as good as the contractor behind it. Any workmanship warranties should be spelled out in your written contract before you sign.Ask your contractor to provide you with all the written product warranties that are provided by the manufacturer on the items you buy, like windows, roofing materials, counters and flooring.Keep all your warranty documents in a safe place.
  • File a written complaint with the Department of Consumer Protection if you’ve been wronged.  When the job is finished, if you feel you've been cheated or wronged, you should let the Department of Consumer Protection know.We may be able to help you get satisfaction from the contractor.See our complaint form and be sure to follow instructions.  We'll need to see a copy of your contract and relevant receipts and other documents.