Services I can help you with

 

Many of my past clients/friends have called me “Google Doug”. I have built relationships with Architects, contractors, handymen, flooring, kitchen, bathroom vendors, pool vendors, HVAC, Electricians, Plumbers, roofers and the list goes on. I’m more than happy to share vendors with you.

Home Improvements
(things to watch out for)

A contractor calls or knocks on your door and offers to install a new roof or remodel your kitchen at a price that sounds reasonable. You tell him you're interested, but can't afford it. He tells you it's no problem - he can arrange financing through a lender he knows. You agree to the project, and the contractor begins work. At some point after the contractor begins, you are asked to sign a lot of papers. The papers may be blank or the lender may rush you to sign before you have time to read what you've been given to sign. You sign the papers. Later, you realize that the papers you signed are a home equity loan. The interest rate, points and fees seem very high. To make matters worse, the work on your home isn't done right or hasn't been completed, and the contractor, who may have been paid by the lender, has little interest in completing the work to your satisfaction. You can protect yourself from inappropriate lending practices. Here's how.

Don't:

  • Agree to a home equity loan if you don't have enough money to make the monthly payments.

  • Sign any document you haven't read or any document that has blank spaces to be filled in after you sign.

  • Let anyone pressure you into signing any document.

  • Deed your property to anyone. First consult an attorney, a knowledgeable family member, or someone else you trust.

  • Agree to financing through your contractor without shopping around and comparing loan terms.

Written Contracts
(make sure you write all of it down)

Contract requirements vary by state. Even if your state does not require a written agreement, ask for one. A contract spells out the who, what, where, when and cost of your project. The agreement should be clear, concise and complete. Before you sign a contract, make sure it contains:
 

  • The contractor's name, address, phone, and license number, if required.

  • The payment schedule for the contractor, subcontractors and suppliers.

  • An estimated start and completion date.

  • The contractor's obligation to obtain all necessary permits.

  • How change orders will be handled. A change order - common on most remodeling jobs - is a written authorization to the contractor to make a change or addition to the work described in the original contract. It could affect the project's cost and schedule. Remodelers often require payment for change orders before work begins.

  • A detailed list of all materials including color, model, size, brand name, and product.

  • Warranties covering materials and workmanship. The names and addresses of the parties honoring the warranties - contractor, distributor or manufacturer - must be identified. The length of the warranty period and any limitations also should be spelled out.

  • What the contractor will and will not do. For example, is site clean-up and trash hauling included in the price? Ask for a "broom clause." It makes the contractor responsible for all clean-up work, including spills and stains.

  • Oral promises also should be added to the written contract.

hiring the right contractors
(is this guy or gal right for you?)
Consumer rights

Interview each contractor you're considering. Here are some questions to ask.

 

Are you licensed and registered with the state? While most states license electrical and plumbing contractors, only 36 states have some type of licensing and registration statutes affecting contractors, remodelers, and/or specialty contractors. The licensing can range from simple registration to a detailed qualification process. Also, the licensing requirements in one locality may be different from the requirements in the rest of the state. Check with your local building department or consumer protection agency to find out about licensing requirements in your area. If your state has licensing laws, ask to see the contractor's license. Make sure it's current.

Got Complaints?
(where to go if you do)

Not all contractors operate within the law. Here are some tips that they are a less than reputable contractor:
 

  • Solicits door-to-door.

  • Offers you discounts for finding other customers.

  • Just happens to have materials left over from a previous job.

  • Only accepts cash payments.

  • Asks you to get the required building permits.

  • Does not list a business number in the local telephone directory.

  • Tells you your job will be a "demonstration."

  • Pressures you for an immediate decision.

  • Offers exceptionally long guarantees.

  • Asks you to pay for the entire job up-front.

  • Suggests that you borrow money from a lender the contractor knows. If you're not careful, you could lose your home through a home improvement loan scam.

 

finding more info

If you have a problem with your home improvement project, first try to resolve it with the contractor. Many disputes can be resolved at this level. Follow any phone conversations with a letter you send by certified mail. Request a return receipt. That's your proof that the company received your letter. Keep a copy for your files. If you can't get satisfaction, consider contacting the following organizations for further information and help:
 

  • State and local consumer protection offices.

  • Your state or local Builders Association and/or Remodelers Council.

  • Your local Better Business Bureau.

  • Action line and consumer reporters. Check with your local newspaper, TV, and radio stations for contacts.

  • Local dispute resolution programs.


To order a free copy of How to Find a Professional Remodeler, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to:

NAHB Remodelers Council - Department FT
1201 15th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005

National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators (www.nacaanet.org). The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

 

Provided by Doug Merlino - DRE #01333796