Start your home improvement project by selecting a professional, reliable remodeling contractor.

Finding a qualified, professional remodeling contractor need not be a difficult or unpleasant task.

By following these basic guidelines, you will not only make the selection process easier, but you will also be more prepared to make an informed decision that best suits your needs.

Employ a contractor with an established business in your local area. Local firms can be checked through past customers. As tax-paying members of your local community, they are compelled to perform satisfactory work for local homeowners in order for their business to survive. Always be sure that you do business with a company properly licensed to work in your area.

Look for a local member of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). The NARI logo is the mark of a professional.

In Virginia, contractors must be licensed; the Commonwealth provides a service for consumers to check license status.

Ask for local homeowner references and follow-up on them. Call the references; ask if they were satisfied with all aspects of the contractor's performance. Ask to see the finished projects.

When interviewing the contractors for your project, do not blindly accept the lowest estimate. Ask the contractor why his price is higher or lower than another. Are all contractors planning to build the same project? Have all the contractors considered ALL the details necessary for your project's success? Often times, a higher price may be worth the cost of better materials and service. REMEMBER that your remodeling dollars spent represent a permanent investment in the home you will spend countless hours in.

Choose a company with which you feel at ease and one that is well-matched to the scope and complexity of your particular project.