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Home Improvement: Things May Not Be as They Appear

Home Improvement: Things May Not Be as They Appear
Our new home improvement columnist explains how to find the right person for the job, as well as pinpoint and avoid those who aren't.


Welcome to the first of many informative features to assist you with making home improvements and repairs safe and simple. Life is hectic enough these days without having to checkout or track down contractors to take care of your needs around the home. Hopefully when a need arises we can help take a load off your shoulders.

 

No one wants to get taken advantage of but it happens on a regular basis in the home improvement arena. The recent news story featuring Mr. Burchett, a contractor from Amelia, who is being prosecuted for theft and theft from the elderly, points out how easily it can happen. You need some work done. You call up a local contractor that you find in a directory or maybe hear about through a friend. You think because he advertises or a friend used him in the past he must be legitimate. The problem with this thinking is that the contractors that operate like Mr. Burchett don’t have a conscience. They don’t think twice about taking your hard earned money many times without doing any work at all. Usually it is more a matter of sub-standard work that they won’t come back to fix or complete.

 

So what should you do when you need a contractor so this does not happen to you? Once you have identified a contractor or two that appear to meet your needs request their insurance information. You would be surprised how many contractors operate without insurance especially some sole proprietors that have gotten into the contractor business because they can’t find work elsewhere. If the contractor provides you with a certificate of insurance, the next step is to contact the insurance agency to verify the policy is in force. One scam used is to purchase insurance, get the certificate and then cancel the policy getting a refund on the premium. They can then use the certificate for the length of the original term. If you catch one in this game get as far a way as possible and maybe report him to the BBB.

 

The BBB is another good check point to see if any and how many complaints have been filed and if so have they been resolved. The old grading system gave a company high marks for resolving complaints. That is all well and good but I would rather work with a company that does not get complaints to begin with. Similar to this you may want to check some references provided by the contractor recognizing no smart person is going to give you the name of an unhappy client. Better yet you should ask to go see some of their completed work to see for your self if it meets your expectations. Many people will go with a friend’s recommendation without knowing if your standards and expectations are similar. You could run a background check; see how long they have been in business; check where they have been located and on and on.

 

Beyond this you want to get their proposal in writing with as much detail as necessary to make sure the scope you have requested is adequately covered should he said-she said issues arise down the road when something is not as you wanted. If changes are made along the way make sure they are documented as well and the cost impact noted. Sounds like a lot of work because it is. Now if your job is a low cost simple repair it may seem that all of this is not necessary but the impact of bad work can get very costly.

 

My intention was not to make hiring a contractor a frightening experience but more so make you aware of the games an unscrupulous contractor may play to take advantage of you. Once they take your money it can be very difficult if not impossible to get it back. I have won judgments in small claims court and never received a dime. They just fold the company and move their money to another account so you can’t find it. Then they start back up with a different company name and do it over again. I started my business after retiring from P&G to make it much easier for people to locate quality, insured contractors without having to do everything I mentioned earlier each time a need arises. We do the screening and checks up front but also maintain an on-going performance record from each job to track the contractor’s consistency as well so we are much more than just a referral source.

 

As part of our new partnership with Cincy Chic, we are offering a 20% discount to new members through the end of 2011 when you used the offer code: CCHIC. The discount reduces the annual membership fee from $29.99 to $24 (about $0.065/day). You will save much more than that by utilizing just one of the discounts and special offers that will be available to you. Visit our website at www.homeserviceslink.com to enroll and request a service or go to our sister site www.cincinnati-home-improvement.net for Your Home Improvement and Repair Guide for Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Submit any questions you would like addressed to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Jim Bextermueller -

Jim Bextermueller is the home improvement and repair columnist for Cincy Chic and owner of Home Services Link, a locally owned service for finding insured, quality contractors and service providers that you can trust to do the work and trust in your home. To learn more, visit www.homeserviceslink.com or email Jim at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ?subject=Cincy%20Chic%20Inquiry" target="_self" data-mce-href="mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ?subject=Cincy'; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text67664 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Chic Inquiry"> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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