March 15, 2010 Show: Thinking of a Remodel for your home? Don’t do anything without first checking out

March 29, 2010 at 2:23 PM | Posted in Be Careful With Contractors, Build Green Save The Planet, Conscious Lifestyles Radio Show Blog, Eco Living and Lifestyle, How To Remodel/Build Green and NOT Get Ripped Off! | Leave a comment
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“When someone shows you who they are…. believe them the first time.”
— Maya Angelou

My interview with Sabine Schoenberg, the founder of revealed just a few pitfalls that any homeowner could fall prey to…..

There are more “Lemons” in the building/contracting industry when it comes to home improvement than any other industry in America. No other industry has enjoyed so much power over the consumer, and causes more complaints to State Consumer Departments.

Our candid discussion talks openly about some of the horrifying trickery that my family and I were subjected to…. and how this is all too common in the home building/remodeling industry.

Preparation, and then more investigation is necessary prior to starting ANY project– whether ‘small’ or large scale– because the crocodiles are awaiting regardless of what kind of an economy there is, but especially when the economy is less about “spec building” and more about “homeowner related remodeling.”

Buyer Beware.

— Require Surety Bonds from ALL Contractors you do business with. This ensures the Homeowner that the company will stand behind their work, and if they don’t properly repair/pay for any damages, then the Surety Bond will pay the Homeowner.

— All consumers need to be aware that the local Building Department Inspectors are NOT perfect and the WILL miss some critical mistakes in workmanship. The local Building Departments are not liable for their own errors and omissions, so the homeowner MUST hire a qualified Owner’s Representative to double-check workmanship prior to any payments to Contractors are made. The homeowner is sadly left with the myriad of expensive fixes if important protective steps are not taken.

— Trust no one. Sabine Schoenberg explained in my interview with her that one of the most common complaints from homeowners who were badly duped is that they all said the contractor seemed “SO NICE” in the beginning of the project! Don’t trust glossy brochures, references on a piece of paper, slick talking, or manipulative [and very convincing] words to make you let your guard down. Often times, contractors have dubious past records and even criminal records.

— Never give in or “downgrade” your standards or requests. This is a big one to be aware of when it comes to manipulation. White Collar professionals in the building industry, such as Architects and Engineers, are all too often guilty of simply being too lazy to give the Client what they want…. so they either ignore the Client’s requests entirely or go through great lengths to convince the Client that they really don’t want the high standards that they are asking for. Don’t subject yourself.

— Sabine talked very squarely about how the Homeowner keeps hoping for the best when things are faltering and not going as planned. She advised that to stop the project and to re-evaluate and even take the steps to terminate a contractor who is not up to your expectations IS exactly what you should be taking action upon…. and sooner better than later. Sabine also stated that this is why you should always start a project with a qualified Owner’s Representative to oversee this process so that you, as the homeowner, are not subjected to the many twisted mind games that any given Contractor will play with the unknowing Homeowner only to ‘bide more time’ on the project when it is clear that the project needs and deserves better talent.

— Collecting on Judgements if you win against a Contractor for everything from Small Claims to Major Stuff: The truth is that a piece of paper is gratifying yet very expensive and time consuming to get. The bad Contractors know this, and are counting on you not bothering to take them to court. However, should you be motivated enough to do so, remember that MOST Contractors have no assets. If they do have assets, then they still refuse to pay and make you spend more money to continue to chase after them in order to collect on the Judgement. Tired yet? They are counting on this. Every State has a Department of Consumer Protection and usually has a limited amount of monetary recovery that is available for Legal Judgements. However, it is a whole lot easier to protect yourself from the very beginning. Get a local, qualified, honorable Owner’s Representative FIRST before you start hiring anyone. Then hire a qualified CONSTRUCTION Attorney to protect you and to write ALL of the legal contracts that protect YOU.

— Never give big deposits. Mike Rosa of MMR Contracting warned my listeners of this in my January 4th, 2010 show. Sabine repeated this warning.

— Assume that if you live in a nice, well-known area that the price for goods and services are going to be inflated. Don’t get duped. Protect yourself, and take the time to respect your time and efforts enough to get the proper “team” assembled before starting any project.

— Finding a good team is tough. Many people, both White and Blue Collar, masquerade as professional and qualified when they are not. Not everyone is even consistently good….. so homework on your part is the most important and time consuming part of the project. It’s worth it!

Visit and get educated, prepared and find the right person for your job who is qualified, honorable, knowledgeable, and worthy of your home!

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