Home improvement contracts: what to do and what not to do
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Look around your neighborhood, we’re sure you’re seeing it - home projects big and small.
Plenty of people are planning out home improvement and landscaping projects.
Right now, contractors are swamped.
WBTV is on your side investigating what you need to know before signing a home improvement contract.
“It was going to be my garage for my vehicles,” said Shelby homeowner Chuck Maskell.
Many homeowners have big expectations for their home improvement projects.
Maskell put down a $2,000 deposit, but the project was never started.
In another recent example, Ayesha Hayman received a new septic tank that made things even worse with raw sewage in her front yard.
“He pretty much told me engineering of the septic tank was not proper for this plot of land. He said that he would have to re-engineer or re-design a septic layout for this land,” said Hayman.
Or Olivia Hopkins’ recent dream patio that she says turned into a nightmare.
“I was just tired of Paul telling me over and over that he was going to come out, he was going to make it right, he was going to do extra and then not showing up,” said Hopkins.
In this case, the landscaper, after our calls, agreed to come out and finish the project.
But that doesn’t always happen.
“They told me they were like 8 weeks out on getting the jobs done but never gave me a final date,” said Maskell.
His contract said, “Unforeseen issues such as inclement weather may delay the original estimated installation date.”
Countless viewers across the Charlotte area are dealing with similar home improvement complaints tied to contractors.
“Complaints about home improvement companies regularly ranks in the top five at BBB each and every year,” said President of the Better Business Bureau Tom Bartholomy.
The Better Business Bureau says to follow these key steps to avoid problems:
- Only use a state-licensed contractor.
- Licensed contractors should list their license number on their business cards and any written proposals.
- Get references.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for a list of recent customers and contact those customers.
- Get your price and scope of work in writing.
- Never let a contractor start work without a signed, written proposal that details not only the price but a detailed list of the work to be performed.
- Do not pay for the entire project upfront.
Reasonable down payments are standard but never pay for a whole job upfront.
“Make sure that you’re not giving a down payment that’s more than 25, 30%,” said Bartholomy.
Try to get a start date and completion date.
“But it’s tough right now with how tight that market is to get a firm commitment as far as when exactly can they start and then if they’re doing outside work, weather can play a factor in that as well,” said Bartholomy.
And finally, get multiple bids.
This will ensure you’re getting a fair price.
“First and foremost, is this somebody I can trust that I’m going to do business with,” said Bartholomy.
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