“Basement Buyers Beware!”

Watch Out
Protect Yourself from Getting Burned
It is sad, but true. Home improvement contracting is risky business … maybe the riskiest business in America. Consider:

  • Americans spend over $120 billion each year on home improvement projects.
  • Problems with home improvement contractors rank in the top three categories of consumer complaints year after year.
  • Including part-timers, there are half a million remodeling contractors in the U.S. Over half of them go out of business each year and over 90% every five years.
  • Industry consultant Walt Stoeppelwerth estimates that half of all homeowners who use remodeling contractors are completely dissatisfied with the work they receive. Only 20% are completely satisfied.
  • The problem is big enough that the Federal Trade Commission, the Better Business Bureau, virtually every State Attorney General, and numerous consumer groups and agencies publish warnings and guidelines for home improvement contracting.

You Know About The Rip-Off Artists
They are the ones you read about in books, articles, web sites and other consumer protection guides. According to the Journal of Consumer Affairs, the most common fraudulent practices include:

  • Charging high prices for low quality materials.
  • Misrepresenting the work to be performed or the materials to be used.
  • Using deceptive pricing.

If you do your homework and follow a few simple steps, you can usually avoid most of these characters. But here is the scary part:

The Biggest Risk Is Harder to Spot
A far greater risk to you, because there are more of them and they are harder to spot, is the group of contractors that author Tom Philbin calls "the bad good guys".

These are the mostly well-intentioned contractors who simply don’t know what they are doing in one way or another. This may include craftsmanship, business skills or both. But regardless of cause, if incomplete or substandard work results, you that pay the price:

  • You spend a ton of money…and it still feels like a basement when it is done.
  • Your contractor disappears in the middle of the job.
  • Subcontractors don’t get paid and you wind up liable for mechanics’ liens.
  • You are peppered with costly change orders for all the stuff your contractor didn’t anticipate when the job was bid.
  • You tear your hair out trying to force your contractor to do what he said or finish what he started.
  • You pay $42,600 for $29,500 worth of work.
  • You sell your home and get next to nothing back in resale value.

So you see, it’s easy to get burned…even when you think you are dealing with the good guys.

Be smart and educate yourself before you start dealing with any contractors.  Always check references and previous work.

Until next time,

If it’s not broke, don’t fix it…If it’s not finished, then finish it! (your basement)

-The Basements Etc. Incorporated Team

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