Lancaster PA Remodeling Tips & Tricks

August 22, 2012

Apples to Apples? How to Compare Remodeling Proposals

Filed under: Tips on Choosing Your Remodeler — Tags: , , , — MBCremodeling @ 3:58 pm
    Most Importantly… Do You Trust This Person?

When it comes down to it, the most important thing to check is your own instincts. How do you feel about this contractor working on what is probably your single largest investment – your home? Do you trust this person inside your home and around your children? Can you communicate well with this person about the project? Are they ‘in tune’ to your needs? Are they an expert and experienced in the type of project you are envisioning? Don’t throw away money on poor workmanship that will lower the value of your home. And then cost more to be fixed.

    Important Considerations:

• Remodeling is NOT a commodity – you don’t decide on the project you want done and, like a TV or Car, go bargain shopping on the internet or around town. This effects your family’s wellbeing for an extended period of time, the value of your home and your hard earned dollars.
• No two Remodelers are the same.
• Every project is custom.
• You must thoroughly review each proposal to get an understanding of what each contractor is presenting a bid for.
• Your prospective Remodeler’s should be consulting with you to create your project, not selling you on what they think should be done.

    8 Questions to Ask:

1. Will they provide their Contractor Registration info (1)?
2. Do they offer Full Health Insurance to their employees?
3. Do they have Liability Insurance?
4. Are they Lead Paint Certified (2)?
5. How much will Change Orders cost / change the original quote?
6. Do they guarantee their proposal price? Or is it just an ‘estimate’?
7. Are they experienced in home remodeling or new home building (there is a HUGE difference)?
8. Have there been any complaints to the BBB (3) about them?

    Does the contractor, price and contract include?

• Designs/Plans/Permits
• Realistic Allowances for your fixtures, cabinets, flooring, etc?
• All required legal documents – 3 days to cancel clause, Arbitration clause, etc
• Do they require no more than 1/3 down payment (excluding special order items), as required by PA law?
• Is there a clear listing of all of the specific details involved, including design, permits, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, inspections?
• A workmanship warranty?

    VALUE is KEY.

There are two ways a contractor can earn your business. He can try to be the lowest price or the best value. (4)

The lowest price typically comes with a large amount of risk. A low price typically means the following: no experience, low overhead (lack of capital, needs large down payment), no workers compensation insurance, no general liability insurance, no business license, and no contractor’s registration. The more items on the above list that applies, the greater the risk to the homeowner.

The best value is typically achieved when the customer knows exactly what they are going to receive (detailed specifications) from a company that has a solid reputation built on years of experience with the type of project you are having done. They will supply a large reference list of previous customers in your area, require no more than 1/3 down payment (PA State Law, excluding special order items), provide proof of insurance with a contact and phone number, proof of business license, and a state contractor’s registration and EPA lead paint certification. They will also offer a Warranty on their workmanship.

Resources:

(1) PA Attorney General Contractor Registration Search
(2) EPA RRP (Lead Paint) Certified Firm Search
(3) Better Business Bureau (BBB)
(4) Remodeling Magazine 2011-12 Harrisburg, PA Cost vs. Value Report

August 7, 2012

Home Contractor Horror Stories (and how you can avoid them)

Sometimes real life is scarier than the movies… like when you are looking for a Home Remodel Contractor in Lancaster, PA, but have no idea who to call. All we hear are stories, like the ones below, about contractors ripping people off and walking off with sometimes 6 figures of hard earned money. Some reports say upwards of $2 Billion a year is taking from people in Contractor Fraud. And that doesn’t include the ones that perform shoddy work that needs to be redone by a professional remodeler within a few months… or the value of the home will significantly drop.

Our tips: Do your research! Ask for references and registration info and check for ratings online. Throw price aside, you get what you pay for – select the remodeler who you feel comfortable working with. They will be in your home day after day.

Videos:

NC Home Contractor Accused of Fraud:

Home Improvement Scams: Unlicensed Contractors:

This woman was ripped off so bad, she started her own bootcamp to help people avoid a similar nightmare: http://www.contractorsfromhell.com/home-premodeling-boot-camp-for-women-and-the-men-who-love-them/

 

Articles:

Excerpt from “A Contractor Horror Story? Join the Crowd” from NYTimes.com.

ALL she wanted was a nice fence around her backyard. Danielle O’Connell was planning a 2-year-old birthday party for her daughter at the family’s Elmsford home and wanted the 18 toddlers safely fenced in.

Mrs. O’Connell and her husband got several estimates but were discouraged by the cost and how long it would take to finish. All the contractors who bid told them the fence would cost at least $5,000 and take four to six weeks to put up.

Then the O’Connells got lucky — at least they thought they did. The couple found a contractor in the Yellow Pages who promised to build the fence for $2,000 and to do it in a week. “We were like, ‘Thank God we found this guy,’ ” Mrs. O’Connell said. “We’re thinking, ‘This is fantastic — those other people were going to rip us off.’ ”

There was a rip-off involved, of course, but it was by the low bidder, not the other contractors. After pressuring Mrs. O’Connell to give him a $1,000 deposit for construction material quickly, he disappeared. He never showed up to build the fence, nor did he answer the phone calls Mrs. O’Connell made as the weeks dragged on.

The O’Connells later found out that he is suspected of bilking at least 11 others out of their money, too.
Excerpt from “Learn from Other People’s Contractor Horror Stories” from NewsChannel5.com.

Jason Brooks is another former customer of Carlton’s.

Brooks paid him $50,000 to build an addition for his in-laws.

As he walks around the half-finished project, he points out different areas where there are problems. Much of Carlton did, Brooks tells NewsChannel 5 Investigates, failed inspection. And then, he says, Carlton vanished and wouldn’t return calls.

“He’s turned what was supposed to be a dream project into a complete nightmare,” Brooks shares.

But perhaps what is most surprising is that Carlton knows what he’s doing is wrong.

Our investigation found that he’s been arrested repeatedly for working as a contractor without a professional license. We also found that he’s ignored repeated orders by the state to stop working until he gets a license.

And, get this. He’s even used someone else’s license, claiming it was his.

Jason Brooks believes, “He doesn’t care. That’s the thing. He doesn’t care about this. He doesn’t respect the law.”

Gene Spitzer adds, “We just thought cause he was a minister, he would be a decent human being.”

Tips on choosing the RIGHT home remodeling contractor:

Tips from the BBB: Hiring a Contractor – Do you know the Red Flags?:

PA State Rep Joseph Preston, Jr: “Check for Home Contractor Registration”:

 

When it’s time for your Lancaster County, PA renovations – Trust MBC:

The Shocking Blue Green Theme. Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,341 other followers