BBB: Hold on! Your home improvement project isn’t done until you do these 6 things

Milwaukee, Wis. – You’re so close to the finish line. The home improvement project you’ve dreamed of for days, months, maybe even years, is about to become a reality. So, congratulations. All that time and money you’ve invested is about to pay off. Phew!

But you’re not there quite yet. Before you can call it a wrap on your home improvement project, even if the actual work is done, you need to take some important actions to ensure you’re satisfied with the end result. Don’t consider your project done until you do these six things.

1. Conduct a final walkthrough

You hired a general contractor you trust. You paid attention as the project progressed. Now you need to schedule a walkthrough with your contractor to ensure the finished product meets your expectations. 

A walkthrough is essential to confirm that the work performed matches what was outlined in your contract.

  • Note and document any defects, including any areas that may be unfinished or need to be touched up. 
  • Get a demonstration of any appliances or equipment that may have come as part of the project.
  • Ask questions about materials used or best practices for maintaining the work that was done.

If everything looks and operates as expected, then that’s great. Confirm with your contractor that you approve of the work, then sign off on completion. But if you have any hesitations or concerns, your walkthrough is when those issues need to be addressed.

2. Collect and register any warranties

Congrats! You’ve finally reached the most exciting stage of your home improvement project: the paperwork. Okay, not exactly thrilling. But if you fail to collect and register your warranties, things could get a lot more interesting – and not in a good way. For example, your coverage may be limited or voided, filing claims could become more complicated, and you may miss out on benefits.

So, when your home improvement project concludes, get any warranties or guarantees associated with the work performed. Make sure you understand everything included in those documents, and then ask your contractor any questions you have about the terms. Many warranties and guarantees cover workmanship or materials used, and the duration of that coverage may vary.

If you hired a trustworthy, BBB Accredited contractor, you were likely provided these warranties and guarantees upfront. But if not, ask for those documents and take the time to review them. Store those files in a secure, dedicated folder for easy reference. Your project isn’t complete until you have the necessary paperwork readily available.

3. Test every system and appliance

You wouldn’t buy a car without seeing how it drives first, right? Or, at the very least, seeing if the car drives? Get the same confirmation level for any systems or appliances attached to your home improvement project. 

If you received a home renovation, test every system, appliance, and fixture to ensure each is working and installed correctly. Lights should turn on, water should run, and heating and cooling systems should operate as expected. And if that isn’t the case, let your contractor know so they can take any needed follow-up actions.

4. Complete all permits and inspections

Depending on the type and scope of your home improvement project, you may be required to finalize permits and/or pass inspections before officially closing the book on the work. Building permits, electrical inspections, and plumbing inspections commonly need to be completed following home renovation projects. If those are left unfinished, the consequences may be steep:

  • Legal issues. You could face fines, penalties, and even legal action from local building authorities.
  • Financial issues. Selling your house or refinancing your mortgage could be complicated or made impossible. Plus, if your home was damaged during the project, insurance may not cover the cost of repairs.
  • Safety issues. Fires, water damage, and even a structural collapse could all be in your future. Unsafe or improperly installed electrical, plumbing or structural systems invites risk into your home.

Your contractor should be responsible for obtaining permits and scheduling inspections, so again, you must hire someone with a proven track record of fulfilling those obligations. Don’t make a final payment until those boxes are checked.

5. Make the final payment

If your contractor lived up to their end of your contract, then it’s time for you to do the same by making your final payment. 

Many homeowners opt to pay in stages rather than all at once, so they can monitor the project’s progress and confirm it is completed to their satisfaction. Retaining a percentage of the payment for a period after the work is done isn’t uncommon either; it protects the homeowner in case defects or any other issues arise from the work performed.

Whatever payment structure is reflected in your contract, your home improvement project (and that contract) isn’t finished until you’ve paid the balance of what you owe.

Related Resource: BBB Dispute Handling and Resolution

6. Leave a review

This is a final step you absolutely do not want to skip. You just had an excellent experience with your general contractor. They met – maybe even exceeded – expectations, and now you get to enjoy the fruits of their labor. As an expert on what it’s like to work with your contractor, your insights are a big deal to the next customers planning a project. You are responsible for letting everyone know how great things went by leaving a positive customer review of their work online.

By leaving a review on sites such as, where customers look to research their purchasing decisions, you’re helping reliable, ethical, honest companies gain more business. Plus, customers rely on reviews to learn about the quality of work they can expect – just like you did. Finish your home improvement project by helping someone else start theirs with the right contractor.

For an online version click here

For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at, 414-847-6000 or 1-800-273-1002. Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

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