Tags: Be Aware and Take Action for your biggest investment, How to Hire and Fire a Contractor, How to protect yourself from bad contractors, Understanding Green Building
My interview on December 6th, 2010, with Home Builder Derek Tacon, owner of Weed and Duryea Home Services in New Canaan, CT, is one of several radio interviews that I have had this year with good people who are trying to bring enlightenment to every homeowner every where in America….
Buyer Beware! There are lots and lots of ‘bad guys’ in the home renovation/home building industry who are thieves, con men, sociopathic, and lurking on every corner.
Many appear to be “nice” in person, even personable and talk like they truly care about you, your home project, and your money…. Appearances are very deceiving in the home building industry.
“Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people.”– Spencer Johnson
Most ‘builders’ are not living their lives with integrity, and they will bring you into a co-dependent relationship with them if given the chance.
Consumers need to fight back. Our consumer laws are being ignored by every State and the bad people who call themselves home builders are more than willing to take your money, damage your home, get over their heads, and leave you with the mess.
My goal in having these shows on building/renovations and HOW to hire and fire a builder/contractor are hopefully opening the door to more awareness in our legal system, and finally, ACTION against this national disgrace.
Derek gave some great points on what to be very careful of when you are building, remodeling, looking for a contractor for anything [even for landscape work]:
1.) You, the consumer, need to be armed with information– THOROUGHLY RESEARCH prospective contractors way, way beyond what your neighbors/friends say and certainly way beyond looking at the BBB and even your State Department of Consumer Protection.
You need to search the internet, physically LOOK at the work that was JUST COMPLETED by this contractor, ignore the list of “References” given by any contractor– often, they are bogus.
2.) Meet with a minimum of three or four different contractors who are qualified to complete the job both on time and with expertise.
The key word is QUALIFIED here. Again, the very beginning is the time to put the onus on yourself to totally research each and every person who walks onto your property to give you a bid on any home project.
3.) NEVER pay up-front with a “Deposit” of any kind. Derek reminded us to think this through: If a contractor claims he needs to buy “materials” with your deposit, then he has NO CREDIT line with his creditors, and is NOT qualified to work with you. He will hit you up for more money up-front as time goes on, and you will ALWAYS be left with the mess and expense in the end. You don’t want to get entangled with a contractor who has too much of your money, and you are in a position without any leverage.
4.) What if it is a big job, say SIX or SEVEN figures in overall scope, and the Builder says he needs a 10% Deposit for “Mobilization” and “Materials.” You just say, “NO” to this scam. The “mobilization” should have taken place by this con-man a long time ago if he is at all legitimate. And again, the stupidity of demanding a client pay for materials up front in cash [checks are cash] is criminal behavior that is designed to entrap you.
5.) What if you are already uneasy about a contractor who is currently at your home? STOP THE PROJECT. PERIOD. You do not need to give an explanation, and get the Police to escort the bad guy[s] OFF your premises if anyone refuses to leave your property. Take this important juncture to have at least three or four contractors who are qualified look at the work under progress. Evaluate whether or not you have over-paid for negligent workmanship, or for work not done yet. This is not a time to be idle, or even to engage in “negotiating” with the person you just asked to leave the job. Be aware of the psychology that will be played with your brain at this time…. bad contractors are almost always previous criminals who know how to dodge the legal system and have no where else to make a living given their past criminal record.
6.) Bad Builders, contractors, and anyone else in the remodeling industry bring BAD sub-contractors and bring their personal chaos, irresponsible behavior, and desperation into your life. They bog you down. Look at the sub-contractors. What is THEIR past work like? How long have they been doing business with the Builder? You must insist on doing the SAME level of scrutiny on the sub-contractors as you do for any Builder.
7.) When they screw up, do they take responsibility? Do they make high end repairs timely and respectfully? A bad builder will argue with you. They will turn the tables on you and psychologically try to break you, confuse you, and BLAME you– the ultimate victim. Does the contractor try to weasel out of any repairs? If they have been paid up-front or too much, they will never come back to take responsibility. Again, responsible behavior is not something a bad builder bothers to think about. You are just an ATM machine to them. You will start to feel uneasy, but the intuition that most of us SHOULD be using will be ‘played with’ psychologically. Be aware, be careful, and take action that protects you. Stop everything.
8.) Attorneys are very good when they are qualified to help you. The time you need a qualified Construction Attorney is BEFORE you start any major project. You make the contract with your attorney, and do not accept a contract written exclusively by the ‘builder’ who has most likely made everything in his own favor. However, Attorneys are just another source of money-drain to you when they are NOT qualified [yet say they are] and have little to no experience with construction matters, and are called upon AFTER the construction has started and you are in the middle of a mess. You are very vulnerable at this time. Again, if you find yourself in a situation like this: Don’t panic, and don’t make blinded choices chasing after anyone who SAYS they will help you. Understand you are a flashing-sign of vulnerability, and take very methodical, careful, and well researched steps to finding the RIGHT Attorney for you. There are many Construction Attorney practices in many cities around the U.S.
9.) Have the courage to say NO. You have the right to say no to anything. Don’t be intimidated by anyone.
10.) Be careful of white collar professionals you hire, too. It’s not just the dishonest Attorneys who will drain you of money and time, it is also the dishonest/bad Engineers, Architects, Designers, etc. …….
DO NOT be bamboozled into believing that just because someone has a lot of Advertising/PR maneuvering in the media or with trade organizations, that they are any good. Often times, you will find yourself SHOCKED to see the evil intentions [getting your money for unqualified or no work on your behalf]. I personally have experienced this and it has to be the most horrifying betrayal of all when you are attempting to have a home build go smoothly.
And HOW do you “Build Green” when so many [way too many] contractors have NO experience with anything remotely “Green” and certainly no sensitivity to our environmental responsibilities?
1.) Educate yourself. One of the best places to start is with an organization that is a think-tank for everything related to Green Building: BuildingGreen, Inc., located in Brattleboro, VT. Check them out at www.buildinggreen.com And get their “Green Spec Guide.” They publish it every year, and it is THE REFERENCE BOOK for everything eco-friendly!
2.) Colorado native David Johnston has several great books… get one. He knows his stuff! He might even be available for consulting with your Architect, etc. David Johnston\'s \"What\'s Working.\"
3.) Before you start anything, read at least ONE of these amazingly informative and eye-opening books:
“The Sociopath Next Door” by Martha Stout, Ph.D.
“Without Conscience: The Disturbing World Of Psychopaths Among Us.” by Robert D. Hare, Ph.D.
“Games Criminals Play: How You Can Profit By Knowing Them.” by Bud Allen and Diana Bosta
“In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People.” by George K. Simon, Jr., Ph.D.
4.) Anyone, ANYONE– Builder, Architect, Engineer, person walking by, etc.– who says that “building with wood or “stick framing” is okay and remotely ‘Green’ is an idiot. Get away from such an ignorant person immediately. Sorry, our Forests [particularly the Doug Fir that is used for 'stick' framing] are disappearing at such a high rate that the deforestation is causing water tables to drop and to disappear altogether. When you deforest, you also cause droughts because the water will disappear, too. Let’s also look at the wretched behavior of the Forest/logging companies: Did you know that they are legally walking into our forests and shooting down any native animal that happens to be in the forest at the time and ‘in the way?’ It is totally despicable.
The above photo of stick framing is something everyone needs to avoid. It is NOT sustainable.
Instead, use ICF’s [Insulated Concrete Forms] and SIP’s [Structural Insulated Panels.] The other option is to use recycled and recyclable steel framing. There are so many choices that are eco-friendly, so never settle.
You have to have a healthy skepticism towards anyone who is recommended, or anyone that you find on your own to do any home building, renovations, etc.
Your time is valuable. You are valuable. Don’t let anyone into your home too eagerly and certainly take the time to have your own “Discovery” of who is qualified and ethical enough to walk into your life.