August 8, 2010




1) HIRE AN UNLICENSED CONTRACTOR – many consumer-protection agencies are reporting an increase in home improvement complaints.  The complaints are about contractors who do shoddy work or abandon the job half-way through or better yet never see the contractor again after giving them a huge deposit to start the work. 

Many homeowners make the huge mistake of hiring unlicensed contractors in an attempt to save money.  The truth is that most of the time this mistake ends up costing the homeowner more money in the end.  (plus additional time and aggravation)

Please be aware of the consequences you may be faced with if you hire an unlicensed contractor.  Below is a brief list of risk you take when hiring unlicensed contractors:

Unlicensed contractors are actually a liability for the homeowner and can expose you to considerable financial risks ranging from repairs to rebuilding to medical costs. 

Unlicensed contractors have no legal regulations to abide by or professional standards to follow. 

Unlicensed contractors may not even have the proper skills, knowledge or ethics to do a home renovation project.

Unlicensed contractors can be subject to fines and even arrest and prosecution for performing construction work without a license. 

Did you know that your homeowner’s policy does not cover unlicensed contractors?

A licensed contractor must have the proper training and expertise in the trades they are practicing.  They must follow legal regulations, safety and building codes. 

A licensed contractor must be bonded and insured.

Hiring a licensed contractor can’t always guarantee you’ll get a quality job but it does provide you with some peace of mind that the contractor does have adequate knowledge and expertise in their trade. 

Most states require a contractor to be licensed.  Many agencies will verify a contractor’s background and years of experience to make sure that person is qualified to hold a license.  Many states even require a contractor to pass an extensive written exam.  

Hiring an unlicensed contractor is the homeowner’s responsibility, too.  If homeowners didn’t hire them, they would be forced to either get the necessary license or stop the improper work all together.   


Most homeowners are confused about what work a “handyman” can perform.  In the State of Arizona a homeowner can NOT use a “handyman” if the work requires a local building permit.  According to Arizona’s ROC, the total cost of the project, including labor, materials and all other items does not exceed $1,000.00.

Total cost of the project as an example means, a “handyman” cannot build a brick fireplace for $1,000.00 in a $10,000.00 addition to a home.  The “total” cost of the project would be considered as $11,000.00.  In such cases, the “handyman” would be required to be a licensed contractor.

In addition, homeowners are also confused when it comes to interior designers contracting to do remodel work or acting as a construction manager.  An interior designer must be a licensed contractor to do any type of remodel/construction work.  They cannot bid or enter into a contract with a homeowner for any type of construction work.  Interior designers can be a great asset to your renovation by helping you select materials and products, space plan, add window treatments and new furnishings.  However, they cannot bid or enter into a contract with you for any type of construction work unless they’re licensed in remodeling or a general contractor.

The reason for these licensing requirements is to protect the health, welfare and public safety and to promote quality construction in Arizona.

If you’re planning on doing any type of renovations to your home be sure to hire ONLY licensed contractors.   You wouldn’t hire an unlicensed doctor or lawyer to work for you, so why would you risk your own safety and property value by hiring an unlicensed contractor? 

2) CONTRACT WITH THE WRONG CONTRACTOR – don’t contract your bathroom remodel to the roofing contractor or have your electrician install your tile floors. 

Be sure to hire the appropriate contractor who is qualified and licensed for the specific work you want preformed. 

Many contractors may know how to do multiple trades but only a General Contractor can do that.  (or sub contract to the appropriate trades)

It is wise to hire a General Contractor because they have knowledge and expertise in ALLareas of construction.  They can do the pricing, scheduling and are the liaison between you and the subcontractors. 

Hiring a General Contractor can save you a lot of time and money and also give you peace of mind because your entire project can be handled by one person. 

3) START WITHOUT A PLAN – it is imperative to have a plan when doing any type of improvements to your home.  I’m very surprised at how many people actually start projects and think they can figure it out as they go. 

In order to have a successful home renovation you must follow a plan.  If you start your project without one, you will have one delay after another and you’ll not only waste time but you’ll waste valuable dollars as well. 

Be sure the plan also consists of a time line and budget. 

If your renovation is to update a room or introduce new materials then you’ll need to have a detailed list that encompasses the scope of the work and details. 

If you’re doing larger projects, like a full kitchen remodel, an addition or expanding a room then you’ll need to invest in drawings, construction plans and documents.  For some projects it can be beneficial to hire an architect for complete drawings, elevations and details. 

Planning ahead will not only save you time and money but it will give you peace of mind. 

4) ATTEMPT “DO IT YOURSELF” PROJECTS – Many homeowners attempt DIY home projects in an attempt to save money, but many go wrong.    

Over 25% of these homeowners have to call in a professional to either fix the damaged work or to complete the project.  Many times the professional has to start from scratch because it’s too difficult to salvage the substandard job. 

Most DIY projects take three or four times longer than it would take an experienced professional contractor to do.  Many people don’t have this much time to spend/waste. 

So many homeowners are never really satisfied with their DIY projects. Very often when it comes to resale, no one is willing to pay top dollar for inferior work so they end up losing money in the end. 

5) SPENDING TOO MUCH OR NOT SPENDING ENOUGH – I see this oh so often…many people just filling their home with upgrades that the real estate market isn’t going to support.  And on the other hand I see people trying to put in junk in hopes to make a ton of money on a resale.  It is not wise to do either.

Make sure the upgrades you put into your home renovation project are appropriate to the home’s market value and the standards of the neighborhood.

When renovating use quality products and materials that the area can support so you can recoup the money you spent if you do decide to sell.

Spending money on a good quality kitchen and/or bathroom renovation is wise because you’ll be able to recoup the money you invested and your house will “show” well.

Know that people are very savvy and they can spot substandard craftsmanship or cheap materials and they will not be willing to pay top dollar for that.

Contact Sandella Custom Homes and Interiors for a FREE consultation call or click:  480.836.1543 or http://sandella.net/


Article by Cheryl Sandella, ASID Interior Designer, Fountain Hills, Arizona

©2010 Cheryl Sandella.  Sandella Custom Homes and Interiors, LLC. 


CherylAbout Cheryl:

Cheryl Sandella, Interior Designer ASID Allied Member and CEO and Founder of Sandella Custom Home and Interiors.  She is a talented designer dedicated to providing homeowners with a high level of design standards and expertise, while providing guidance and support throughout the home renovation process.  Presenting every homeowner with a precise plan and customized design.

Cheryl is known for her keen eye and ability to pay close attention to design and details while never loosing site of the homeowner’s lifestyle, budget and dream.   She works closely with her husband and partner of over 30 years, Al Sandella, General Contractor and together they design, remodel and build homes in the valley.

To read more about her go to www.sandella.net/aboutus/aboutus.html   and sign up to receive the FREE Guide, “How to Create a Design Notebook” and to discover upcoming promotions, programs and services. 

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