Learn How to Avoid a Home Improvement Nightmare

Avoid a home improvement nightmare

Studies by The Consumer Federation of American and the Better Business Bureau show that 1 of the top 3 complaints received from consumers concerns terrible experiences with home improvement contractors.

We love our homes. We invest greatly in them. We want them to be sanctuaries of comfort and peace. A lousy home improvement experience can turn that all upside down.

In 2018, one study recorded 5,480,127 consumer complaints registered against roofing contractors! As President of Isaiah Industries,  a leading manufacturer of residential metal roofing, I have worked with thousands of contractors in my nearly 40-year career spanning hundreds of thousands of home improvement projects.

For the protection of consumers, I offer this new list to avoid potential problems that seem to take place without proper due diligence when working with home improvement contractors.

The Top 10 Ways To Avoid A Home Improvement Nightmare

  1. Have a contract in place detailing the exact scope of work to be done, your expectations for the timing, and the quality of work. If you’re not comfortable with the contract offered by a contractor, tell them what you’d like to see included. Specify that all work will is to be done per product manufacturer specifications, according to code, professionally, and skillfully.
  2. Ensure that your contractor is local and not a “storm-chaser” who has taken up an address at a local mail facility to appear local. In some cases, these contractors will even obtain phone numbers, websites, or addresses of former local contracting companies to look local. Don’t be fooled – as soon as the storm work is over, they abruptly move to the next town, never to be heard from again.
  3. Know who, exactly, will be doing the work on your home. During the project, it is the skilled tradespeople who you will be “living with” and who have the power to make or break the project. You deserve to know who they will be. It’s okay if they are sub-contractors rather than employees – you just need to know who they are.
  4. Talk to past customers of your contractor. Go and see the work done for them. Make sure that the individuals who did their job, if it satisfies you, will be doing the work on your home as well.
  5. There’s been a rapid increase in the variety of building materials available today. If a new or unique product will be used on your home, verify what training and experience the contractor has with those products. Do not hesitate to contact the manufacturer for instructions, or, to ensure the manufacturer and your contractor have connected to provide the proper guidance and training.
  6. If at any point along the way, including the contractor, their workers, or their suppliers, someone seems reluctant to share information with you, consider that to be your red flag that this relationship is not headed for a successful outcome.
  7. Have an understanding, in writing, with your contractor that there will be “no surprises.” Give them the leeway of knowing that you understand that sometimes “exceptions to the plan” arise. If something like that happens, rather than try to hide it or just bill you for it later, give them permission to come to you immediately to explain and discuss the situation, offering a solution and a written change order or addendum to the contract if necessary.
  8. Know exactly what a normal workday will look like and, again, ask them to contact you if there are any exceptions to that. Request a daily project update and walk-around with the job site foreman and make sure that you have cell phone numbers for all involved for quick contact or in case of emergency.
  9. Verify that the salesperson who sold you the work – the person most responsible for making commitments to you – will not disappear after the contract is signed but will be checking in on the project and available to you at all times.
  10. Before you make your final payment, make sure the materials used for your project have been paid for, in full. Otherwise, you are at risk of liens being placed on your home by the product suppliers.

Your home should be a place of joy, not frustration. Home improvement projects can be a great way to enhance the value, comfort, and security of your home. By following these ten tips, you will ensure successful home improvement projects.

Your Guide to Trusted Resources on Home Improvement

Consumer Federation of America logo

The 2018 Consumer Complaint Survey Report

The 2018 Consumer Complaint Survey Report from the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) caught my attention. The CFA asked state and local agencies about the worst complaints they received, and the responses revealed that home improvement and construction reports were described as “the worst”.

Page 6 of this document provides an overview of the top 3 categories, page 21 details specific types of complaints received.

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Federal Trade Commission logo

Hiring a Contractor Article from the FTC

The Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information Division provides a wealth of unbiased, truthful information on hiring a contractor for home improvements...or anything else. Don’t overlook this guide to consumer education on contractors.

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Better Business Bureau

Better Business Bureau Complaint Statistics

Home improvement contractors account for a disturbing number of concerns by consumers, as detailed in this comprehensive collection of complaints compiled in 2018 by the Better Business Bureau.

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Isaiah Industries logo

Helping Homeowners by Educating Contractors

As an industry-leading metal roofing manufacturer, Isaiah Industries is diligent in educating home improvement contractors in good business practices, processes, and procedures that are grounded in integrity.

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A Quality Warranty Example

I offer our example of a quality, manufacturer’s product warranty that is easily accessible to consumers.

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confused contractor

44 Questions To Ask Your Contractor

To avoid being “scammed” or feeling like a project is out of your control, this list of 44 Questions to Ask Your Roofing Contractor is fully adaptable to other types of home improvement contractors, I think you will find it timely, useful, and a great place to start for instilling confidence in your decisions for your next home improvement project.

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For further information on home improvements, contact me.