Question: You suggested that when choosing a contractor to remodel a home, one should visit projects the contractor has completed within the last year. Wouldn't it be good enough just to call the homeowners and inquire as to their satisfaction?
Answer: Not really. There are many home-improvement contractors and most of them are quite capable of doing good work. However, that does not necessarily mean that it is the type of work that you want done to your home.
Most home improvement contractors have a tendency to specialize. I have a good friend who likes to specialize in big-ticket remodeling projects in luxury housing. He does outstanding work, but his prices are rather expensive. If a person has a home that is worth a million dollars in Beverly Hills, he or she would be foolish to pick a contractor who does minimum quality work.
I also have a contractor friend who is interested in doing room additions on a volume basis in order to keep down costs and to increase his efficiency. His prices are usually very attractive to people who do not have large incomes but need of an extra bedroom for a growing family.
You can easily see, depending on your own needs, why is it very important that you monitor the type of work the contractor has done.
Also you may want to satisfy yourself by talking to the previous client. The contractor may think that he or she got along very well with the homeowner, but you may discover hidden grievances that the homeowner has not even expressed to the contractor, such as time delays, shoddy workmanship and other things that have a tendency to irritate homeowners.