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Q: I am interested in remodeling my kitchen and bathroom. How do I go about finding reputable remodelers and interior designers?
–D. Thomas, Via the Internet
A: Aside from being an aesthetic and a functional thrill, enhancing your kitchen and bath can add investment value to your home and may raise its selling price above other homes in your neighborhood. A $75,000 remodeling job, for example, will not increase the value of a home in an area where houses cost $100,000.
The first step in any new project, however, is to gather as much information as possible about trends, pricing, energy saving ideas, payment options, and, of course, contractors. A good place to start is with friends and relatives who have been satisfied with recent remodeling jobs. I would also suggest talking, in detail, with those who were dissatisfied as well. They may be able to provide great insight on what to pay particular attention to.
Servicemagic.com is an online resource that offers information on prescreened professionals in your area. They also offer expert advice, consumer tips, and a project estimator, where you can calculate costs before you begin a project. You should also check with the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (www.nari.org) and the National Kitchen & Bath Association (www .nkba.org). After you’ve narrowed your selection to two or three contractors, it’s important to visit their showrooms and see photos of completed work. Also check with your local Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) to see if there have been any complaints about the contractors you’ve selected.
Mail your consumer empowerment questions to Ask Your Advocate, BLACK ENTERPRISE 130 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10011or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.