KHI Quarterly V4 Q1 - Winter 2013

Six Key Questions to Sniff Out Bad Contractors By Lee Nelson - Yahoo! Homes

Getting antsy to remodel your home? You might think your kitchen or bathroom needs a remodel right this minute, but remember: Haste makes waste. Rather than rushing to hire the first, or even cheapest, contractor you come across, asking the right questions upfront will help you filter out the bad apples and find a reputable contractor to meet your needs. "I want my clients to feel 100 percent comfortable with me," says Shawn Kruse, president of the Remodeling Contractors Association of Connecticut and owner of Kruse Home Improvement, LLC. "And honestly, the more investigation they do about me and questions they ask me, the better it is for me. It helps me get the job." As Kruse points out, a thorough investigation can benefit both parties in the end. "Potential clients learn about your credentials, background and experience. They start to get to know you and see if your personalities can get along," Kruse acknowledges.

You may know exactly what you want out of your remodel, from the fixtures to the flooring, but you should know what you want from your contractor, too. Don't settle for the first or cheapest bid. Your contractor will control the project from start to finish, so it's important the two of you are a good match. If you want to find a contractor who suits your needs, try asking these six questions during the interview:

Question #1: What's Your Business History (and More)? Here are a few other things Kruse thinks you should ask contractors: How long have you been in business? Are you licensed by the state? What percentage of your clientele is repeat or referral business? Are you a member of a national trade association? Do you have a list of references from past projects similar to mine? Have you or your employees been certified in remodeling or had any special training or education?

Question #2: Do You Provide a Detailed Written Contract? Some things that should be on a contract - in great detail - include: names,   addresses, and phone numbers of all parties involved in the project, including vendors, detailed list of the work to be completed, list of each product along with its price and model number, who is responsible for pulling permits, where deliveries will go and where the dumpster will be placed, what time the workers begin and end their day, project's start and completion dates plus payment schedule and all work carried out by subcontractors.


Question #3: How Much Do I Need to Put Down? The Better Business Bureau's suggests paying one third at the beginning of the project, one third when work is 50 percent complete, and one third after it is final and you are satisfied with the outcome.

Question #4: Can I Get Itemized Price Estimates? An itemized price list should detail the cost of labor, demolition, materials, electrical, plumbing, permits, etc. If midway through the project you decide to put in a less expensive countertop than the one originally discussed, you need to know the exact cost of the first countertop to know how much of a credit you should receive.

Question #5: Who Will Be at the Site? In their "Home Sweet Home Improvement" guide, the Federal Trade Commission urges homeowners to ask if subcontractors will be used on the project. If so, homeowners should ask to meet them to make sure they have insurance coverage and proper licenses. When meeting the subcontractor, ask if the lead contractor pays them on time. Why is this little detail important?   According to the Federal Trade Commission, "A 'mechanic's lien' could be placed on your home if your contractor fails to pay subcontractors or suppliers," who, in turn, could take you to court to retrieve their unpaid bills.


Question #6: Do You Think We Can Get Along? Just like any good relationship, the one between you and your contractor should have    harmony, communication, and collaboration. Some personalities and styles just don't mesh, so don't pick someone just because their bid is the lowest, says Kruse.

Protecting yourself from these nightmares means knowing exactly who your contractors are before you hire them. After all, it  doesn't hurt to ask - but it sure could hurt if you don't. To read the complete interview visit our blog at

Kruse Home Improvement Lends a Helping Hand

KHI volunteers
At Kruse Home Improvement, LLC, we feel one of the best ways to show gratitude is by giving back to the community and with the recent Holidays, this seemed like the perfect time of year to contribute. We thought that a great way to give back was to do what we do best so on Saturday, November 3rd our whole crew and a few of their significant others, showed up at the Marshall Street Habitat for Humanity build in Hartford to donate a day’s worth of labor.

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian ministry founded on the conviction that every man, woman and child should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live. Habitat welcomes all people - regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or any other difference - to build and repair simple, decent, affordable houses with those who lack adequate shelter.
Our volunteers hard at work
It was a brisk morning so luckily we were working indoors as the build was at the point where sheetrock was ready to go up. This was our first experience working with the Habitat for Humanity crew and I must say I was pleasantly surprised to see the level of detail and quality that goes into these buildings. Another interesting part of the process was that the very people who will eventually own these homes were onsite helping to build them with the volunteers! All Habitat homeowners are required to put in at least 150 hours worth of work to qualify for a home in the future.

At lunch, we had the opportunity to tour one of the completed homes and the end result is amazing! There is not much in the way of frills and custom features but the craftsmanship is very solid and the homes are extremely energy efficient. The end result is a three bedroom townhouse that anyone would be happy to own.

Great teamwork by Kruse and Cox
The Habitat for Humanity staff took great care of us while we were at the site; there were donuts and coffee for us all day long and we ended up     having a great time getting to know the other volunteers as well. If you are interested volunteering your time or skills, I would suggest looking into   working with Habitat for Humanity, it was a wonderful experience. We all felt very much appreciated by the staff and other volunteers while at the job and look forward to donating our time again in the spring!

For more information on Habitat for Humanity visit