let bad contractors nail your budget
For most homeowners, buying a home is the biggest single
investment they'll ever make. So before you let a stranger come in and smash walls,
tear out appliances and crunch holes in the ceilings of your biggest financial
asset, it might be a good idea to find out exactly who you're dealing with.
Once you've found
equity loan and figured out which
remodeling projects will give you the best
return on your investment, you may think
all you have to do is kick back and daydream
about marble countertops and game rooms.
The quickest way to get nailed
on your home improvement projects, though,
is not doing your homework on your contractor.
Activity Index, released Jan. 18 by Harvard
University's Joint Center for Housing Studies,
found that Americans spent $168.7 billion
on home improvements last year, up 1.5 percent
from the 2005's total.
Lots of work means lots of contractors.
And lots of ways to get scammed.
Last year, the Better
Business Bureau received 6,489 consumer
complaints regarding construction and remodeling
services, ranking relatively high at 22 out
of 2,900 complaint classifications.
Sheila Adkins, director of public affairs
for the Council of Better Business Bureaus, says there are three main reasons
for the flood of complaints.
|3 main reasons for complaints:|
don't get all the details written into the contract before signing it.|
select a contractor based on price alone, without investigating their background.|
get duped by outright scams.|
These fly-by-night artists fall
into three broad categories. There's the con
man, an outright criminal who promises anything
at any price, demands his money up front and
then vanishes. Then there's the lowball artist,
a shady operator who intentionally bids below
his legitimate competitors, then makes costly
changes or skimps on workmanship to recoup
a profit. Last, there's the slipshod businessman
whose intentions may be honorable but whose
incompetent estimates and overall poor judgment
end up costing you money.
"These are the door-to-door home
contractors who claim to be doing a job at your neighbor's house, they have leftover
materials and would be happy to patch your leaky basement, repave your driveway
or check your furnace," says Adkins.
against the con artist should be easy, she says.
your local BBB and ask for a list of members in that industry. That's just being
a wise consumer," Adkins says. "If you're spending several thousand
dollars, I think you want to make sure you're giving it to a reputable company."