American Institute of Architects, 800-242-3837; aia.org. This organization’s Web site has a searchable database of architects and sample contracts; the sub-site, howdesignworks.aia.org, provides guidelines on finding an architect, negotiating an agreement, and maintaining a good relationship, as well as video case studies. The three local chapters—AIA DC (aiadc.com), AIA Northern Virginia (aianova.org), and AIA Maryland (aiamd.org)—also provide information on finding and hiring architects.
Angie’s List, angieslist.com. This consumer-networking Web site gives member reviews of home-improvement companies—not just remodelers—across the country, rating them on price, quality, responsiveness, and professionalism. Membership is $67 a year or $8.75 a month (plus a $15 initiation fee).
National Association of the Remodeling Industry, 800-611-6274; nari.org. Provides referrals to contractors, carpenters, kitchen-and-bath designers, and other remodeling specialists by Zip code. The homeowners section includes tips on living through a remodeling project and warning signs of fly-by-night operators. NARI’s “green” site, greenremodeling.org, offers green-certification programs for remodelers and tips for eco-conscious homeowners.
National Kitchen & Bath Association, 800-843-6522; nkba.org. This association certifies kitchen and bath designers. The Web site offers a searchable database of designers plus project photos, a remodeling guide, and tips on sticking to a budget.
Referral services. Three services offer free referrals to home-improvement businesses that they’ve screened. Urban Referrals (urbanreferrals.com) and Home Connections (homeconnections.com) serve the Washington area; Home Solutions Connection (homesolutionsconnection.com) focuses on Northern Virginia, Montgomery County, and DC.
Washington Consumers’ Checkbook, checkbook.org. The Neighbor-to-Neighbor section of this Web site (accessible only to Checkbook magazine subscribers) contains homeowners’ recommendations of remodeling specialists.