Renovations are on the rise, but so are problem contractors. How to protect your home and your money.
GREENSBORO, N.C. — When there’s a finger-sized gap between the corner of your kitchen wall and the backsplash tile from the other wall, you have a problem. This is just one example of a home repair/renovation gone wrong. Interior Designer Laura Redd says she’s hearing about situations like this on a regular basis.
“There’s a lot of work and not enough people to do it and we’ll add COVID into this and maybe a person is out of work and they’ve done handyman or DIY projects and they’re saying, ‘I can do you renovation’. They’re jumping into the market with not enough skill set,” said Redd.
She gets calls every week from folks who hired someone to do work in their house and now they need to hire her to make it right. She recently wrote about it in her Love Your House Blog.
How do you keep this from happening to you?
This sounds simple but ask questions.
How long have you been in business?
Can you show me a project from five years ago, not just last week?
Do you have a website?
Are you part of the local builders or remodeling association?
Redd says don’t discount getting three estimates. Here’s why.
“What the three estimates do, is show you whether everyone is comparing apples to apples and making sure the numbers come in basically the same,” said Redd.
Yes, you heard right, ‘basically the same’. Here’s the thing, if the estimates come back within a thousand dollars of each other, that’s about right. But if one of the three estimates comes in $5,000 or $10,000 much less $20,000 less, that’s a red flag.
“I have a client right now that this happened to. The $20,000-less company came in, gutted the kitchen, they’ve done half the work, and then said, ‘I’m sorry, I need another $20,000 to finish your project’. These folks are now in the position that their kitchen is demolished,” said Redd.
She adds you can of course take them to court, but that’s a process. In the meantime, you have no kitchen to use.
Here are two more recommendations when hiring anyone to do work at your home:
Never pay upfront for the entire job.
Always get everything in writing, not just the money, but the timeline for work as well.