Costco sells all sorts of unexpected items beyond bulk groceries.

That includes engagement rings, vacations, furniture, caskets and swimming pools. Money expert Clark Howard even recommends that you buy many of those things from Costco, his favorite store.

But what about Costco’s home renovation services? Does that service get Clark’s seal of approval as well?

That’s what a listener of the Clark Howard Podcast recently asked.

What Does Clark Think of Using Costco for a Full Bathroom Renovation?

Should we turn to Costco for home renovations?

That’s what a listener wanted to know on the March 7 podcast episode.

Angie in Texas asked: “We recently moved into a new to us house that was originally built in the 1980s. The former owners did a lot of renovations, but the bathrooms need a lot of work. Neither my husband nor I have ever dealt with home remodels or renovations in the past and aren’t sure where to start.

“What do you think about Costco’s home services? We used them for shutters in our former home and were happy with the service, but we’re still a little unsure for a full renovation.”

Clark is willing to buy almost anything through Costco. But he thinks it’s a bad idea to hire a contractor through any third party, including any of the national home-improvement retailers.

“We have a dog named Kirkland Signature. We did have a dog forever ago named Costco Wholesale. So I really love Costco,” Clark says. “That’s not how I’d pick a contractor to do a full reno of a bathroom in your home.

“We’ve had this problem with the home improvement retailers. People will hire a contractor through them. And then there are all kinds of problems. And the home improvement [company] is like, ‘Who, us? What? Huh?’”

Finding a solution once you’ve hired a contractor and they’ve done a poor job often is a nightmare. So this is a person that you want to interview and hire yourself.

How To Interview and Vet Potential Home Renovation Contractors

When you hire a contractor, Clark says, you want to go old-school and be able to look them in the eyes. Ask them to show you work they’ve done in other homes. Talk to homeowners who have hired them in the past.

“Hiring a renovation contractor, it’s much easier to get into trouble than get out of it. You really take your time checking references and getting quotes from multiple [people],” Clark says.

“You want to ask those references, ‘What happened on budget? What happened on time?’ Those are the two big things we hear complaints about.”

Be clear and precise about what you want, including the quality of the materials. That way the estimate that the contractor gives you entering the job is more likely to be accurate.

Look for someone local and experienced, Clark says, who can give straightforward answers about references and put costs in writing.

How Should You Structure Your Payments To a Contractor?

Because it’s an industry rife with less-than-stellar work, playing the incentive game is smart. You don’t want to pay full freight before your home renovation contractor even opens their toolbox.

“Be very cautious about anybody who wants you to frontload money to them for the work that’s going to take place,” Clark says.

It’s difficult to set an ironclad rule on a maximum up-front percentage to pay a home reno contractor. You’d like to pay at progress milestones, Clark says.

He does suggest a 10% “retainage.” In other words, it’s pretty standard to withhold 10% of the money until it’s clear that the contractor did everything right.

Final Thoughts

Costco offers home renovation. But Clark thinks you should hire contractors yourself. Especially ones that are going to undertake big, expensive jobs inside your house.

Hiring a contractor isn’t a decision you want to rush. Be thorough in your hiring process, Clark says. That includes getting multiple quotes, checking references, looking at examples of past work and getting as much in writing as possible.