Before You Start, Select a Professional Remodeling Contractor

If you are considering a home remodeling project, the most important decision you can make is selecting a professional home remodeler to do the job. Your home is too important to entrust to anyone but a professional home remodeler who can:

  • Save you money by doing the job right the first time.
  • Ensure that your dreams are accurately translated into reality by offering design services in-house or through an arrangement with a professional architect or designer.
  • Understand that your comfort during the project and its successful completion depend on effective communication and follow-through.
  • Maintain a safe and neat job site to prevent damage to your home or injury to household members and pets.
  • Provide the best possible materials within your budget and assist you in making selections through the vendors they work with.
  • Ensure that your job meets or exceeds applicable building codes and regulations such as the EPA Lead Paint rule for work on homes built before 1978.
  • Respond promptly to service calls and inquiries.

Since your home is probably the most significant investment you’ll ever make, you need a professional to plan and execute your remodeling or renovation project. Look for a Certified Graduate Remodeler (CGR) or a Graduate Master Remodeler (GMR). CGRs and GMRs have earned professional designations from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) specific to the remodeling industry, and many are members of a local Remodelers Council, such as the GHBA, which is affiliated with NAHB Remodelers.

When you hire a CGR or GMR, you are doing business with an individual who is committed to continuing education and professional growth and will bring exceptional skill and knowledge to your project.

To become a CGR, a remodeler must have at least five years of experience in the industry, take a qualifying exam and successfully complete a pre-set curriculum of courses specific to the remodeling industry, including project and business management.

The GMR allows experienced CGRs to attain additional training and recognition for their longevity in the remodeling industry. This program is the equivalent of a master level for the CGR designation. All GMRs must have a minimum of 15 years’ remodeling experience, complete five more re­quired courses and have years of experience as a CGR or another respected remodeling association.

In addition, CGRs and GMRs are required to carry workers’ compensation and liability insurance and maintain a valid business license, where required by their state or local jurisdiction. Upon earning the designation, they must sign a Code of Ethics specific to their designation. CGRs and GMRs also are required to complete 12 hours of continuing education related to building and remodeling every three years. To find a professional remodeler in your area, use the member directory.

Professional Remodeling Designations

CGR Certified Graduate Remodeler
GMR Graduate Master Remodeler
CGB Certified Graduate Builder
GMB Graduate Master Builder
CAPS Certified Aging In Place Specialist
CGP Certified Green Professional
RCS Residential Construction Superintendent
MIRM Master in Residential Marketing

Checklist to help select a remodeler:

  • Contact your local home builders’ association for the names of member builders and remodelers at You can also ask family, friends or coworkers for recommendations
  • Make sure the builder or home remodeler has a permanent business location and a good reputation with local banks and suppliers.
  • Check out the company’s rating and if there have been any complaints filed with your local Better Business Bureau.
  • Make sure the builder/remodeler has sufficient workers’ compensation and general liability insurance. If not, you may be liable for any construction-related accidents on your premises.
  • Ask the builder/remodeler to provide you with names of previous customers. If they won’t, beware. If they do, ask the customers if they would hire the builder/remodeler again.
  • Ask if you can see the builder/remodeler’s work, both completed and in progress. Check for quality of workmanship and materials.
  • Do you feel you can easily communicate with the builder/remodeler?
  • Make sure the builder/remodeler provides you with a complete and clearly written contract. The contract will benefit both of you.
  • Be cautious about unusually low-priced bids. Keep in mind that less expensive does not mean better!
  • Verify that your remodeler is an EPA Lead-Safe Certified Renovator if you are planning work in a pre-1978 home.