Everybody wants to be #1, but when it comes to the Top Ten Categories of Consumer Complaints, you want to be as far away from that as possible.
Home Repair/ Construction was ranked #3 in most complaints by the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) – great acronym, right? Only Debt Collection (#1) and Auto Sales (#2) had more complaints in 2008 than Home Repair and Construction
See their report here http://www.naag.org/top-10-list-of-consumer-complaints-for-2008-aug.-31-2009.php
So, why do I blog about my industry’s failings like this?
Because too many times, the solution to avoiding these problems are very easy, if you know what to do, what to look for and what to ask. Protecting yourself from unscrupulous or “well-intended, but ill-prepared” contractors is actually very easy, but unless you’re informed and follow through on the suggestions, the chance of becoming part of future statistics is far greater.
Remodeling is a trade that many people tend to do “on the side”. Especially in a down economy when there are so many more people out of work, or not able to earn the wage they need to live. People will look to make their own way in times like these. A “fix it for a friend” here and a “do-it-yourself” experience there and many people feel they are prepared to expand, be their own boss and do this for a living. The problem is, too many consumers don’t do their due diligence to check the background of these companies. These companies are usually cheaper than the professionals out there – and for obvious reasons.
Many of these small businesses don’t carry business insurance (too expensive), they don’t carry state certification credentials (too many classes to have to attend, plus it’s expensive to attend a class instead of getting a job done), they don’t have the years in business to understand and predict the surprises that pop up on nearly every job and most of all, these newly-formed businesses often don’t understand proper pricing for a project in order to cover their job costs, pay for their bills to stay in business and yes, make a profit on their business investment.
So, unfortunately, when problems on your project arise that inexperienced company that is stretched financially or trying to put out too many fires at the same time by juggling multiple projects at once without enough help will choose their own safety over yours. When it comes down to helping you or staying out of financial trouble, you better believe they’re going to cover themselves, first.
Now, I’m not saying all small companies are bad. There are small companies out there that want to stay small and do a great job at what they provide. But, these are companies that get the education they need, have the proper insurances to protect themselves and you during a project and they are state certified. These are people who understand what a budget is and what they need to charge in order to continue in business. These are people who have done this consistently over the years with many satisfied clients to prove it.
But, how do you know a good contractor from a suspect one? Unfortunately, the one-size-fits-all description doesn’t work here. It’s up to you as the consumer to ask the right questions and to do the leg work ahead of time. In an earlier post, I have a blog entitled, “How do I Choose a Remodeling Contractor”. In there, you will have all the tips you need to keep you from becoming another statistic in the coming reports from NAAG.