Home Renovation 101: Buyer Beware!

December 8, 2010 at 11:43 AM | Posted in Be Careful With Contractors, Being Effective with Time, Best Practices in Business, Build Green Save The Planet, Conscious Lifestyles Radio Show Blog, Earth Friendly Business Ethics, Eco Living and Lifestyle, Environment, How To Remodel/Build Green and NOT Get Ripped Off!, Uncategorized | 3 Comments
Tags: , , ,


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.

Green Building 101

October 19, 2010 at 3:21 PM | Posted in Be Careful With Contractors, Build Green Save The Planet, Conscious Lifestyles, Conscious Lifestyles Radio Show Blog, Earth Friendly Business Ethics, Eco Living and Lifestyle, Eco Warriors, Environment, Environmental Stewardship, How To Remodel/Build Green and NOT Get Ripped Off!, Organic Gardens for Residential and Commercial Building, Permaculture, Sustainable Business Economics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: , , ,

Where do you start? You want to save the environment, you want to live like you actually care about the forests, the rivers, oceans, the air, and all living beings….

My show on October 18th was a lively and informative discussion on where to start first with any green project, and what NOT to do in any home related project.

1.) Do your own homework. The one reference book you cannot live without in any Green/Eco-friendly project is “The Green Spec Directory” from www.buildinggreen.com. Check it out, and learn as much as you can as a consumer. The more you know, the more you will be empowered to be an active voice for your environment.

2.) Build smaller, more thoughtful spaces. You can have a beautiful, spacious feeling home that does not have to have a huge, monolithic footprint… and you can save the environment by choosing [insisting on] NO wood for the framing– which rapidly deforests our last remaining natural habitats– AND to insist on a plan that includes sustainable practices in water management, natural [indigenous] landscape plantings, LED lighting and HVAC systems and appliances that are efficient, ecologically healthier. Insist on Solar for your hot water and even as your primary source to power your entire home and energy needs. Why not? The technology is here. The tax incentives are FINALLY here, and now there is no excuse. Geothermal is a good choice, and was the only choice I had a few years ago for my home, but it is expensive to install. The up side is the efficient system and the radiant floor heat is divine.

3.) The challenge: To find QUALIFIED, experienced, LEED Certified professionals to make your dreams of a Green home come true. This is a big challenge that cannot be taken lightly. The top, progressive, forward thinking Contractors now have LEED certified professionals on staff, and will have previous projects to show you. Also, look for a LEED Certified Architect to start with. But don’t leave all the decisions up to anyone but yourself…. learning about green materials and practices is totally fun, and you can start to be an important partner in this project that YOU are the CEO over. Never hand over full control to anyone other than yourself.

4.) Visit other green home projects and families that have actually Green built. Talk to other people. Get the lay of the land on what to do, and what not to do… I could personally spend days on end talking on my radio show about the tricks that I endured from every scoundrel who told me that they wanted “to learn green building” but had no intention of honoring my ecologically sustainable wishes once they were on board. Be vigilant.

Solar Shingles


The oil and gas industry has managed to destroy our natural environment with no one to stop them for longer than most of us have been alive.

It is time to let our voices be heard in Washington that we are not going to tolerate big tax breaks for this heinous industry. The “back room deals” with our elected officials who have allowed themselves to be corrupted, and the exemptions from the “Clean Air and Clean Water” Acts for the oil and gas industry is totally wretched.

What is the point in having such skeleton laws that do little to protect our water and our air? ALL life is dependent upon these two things…. and the worst polluters on this planet are EXEMPT from them!

Sabine Schoenberg suggested that people who have not yet converted to Solar or Geothermal should start to use “Biofuels” that are now available for the oil/gas furnaces and boilers.

Sabine also warned about the much touted “CFL” light bulbs. She warned that NO ONE should be buying these because they contain MERCURY and are damaging to the environment. The Department of Environmental Protection needs to re-evaluate this lightbulb, and it should not even be manufactured any longer.

Instead, invest in LED light bulbs. They are expensive, but they last for more than 20 years!

I believe that everyone can take action in the small choices we make, too.

Buy only recycled paper products. There is no excuse here. There are “luxury” feeling paper products for your bath and your kitchen. No one should think it’s okay to deforest our last remaining virgin forests for their own convenience. How ignorant.

Like everything in life, there is a “high end” and a “lower end” to products that you can buy. The good quality recycled products are here. Demand them.

Your office paper, school paper…. all paper should be labeled “100% recycled” when you make a purchase.

You can now also easily get bio-degradable trash bags. Whole Foods sells them and so does Home Depot! The other retail grocers need to catch up on this concept. The plastic bags are ruining our planet. They are made from petroleum products and never degrade.

As always, thanks for reading my blog for Conscious Lifestyles.

It’s time. Take action.

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

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
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

“When someone shows you who they are…. believe them the first time.”
— Maya Angelou

My interview with Sabine Schoenberg, the founder of ConstructionCoach.com 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 http://www.constructioncoach.com and get educated, prepared and find the right person for your job who is qualified, honorable, knowledgeable, and worthy of your home!

Powered by WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.

The Invisible Scar

raising awareness of emotional child abuse, its effects on adult survivors & the power of words on children

Greening Our Children & Yours!

Sharing Ideas on Environmental Health and Hazards

Uniquely Narcissistic

Signs and Red Flags of Narcissists

Save Our Deer

Stop the Extinction of Connecticut Deer!

Save our iMfolozi Wilderness

HELP SAVE the iMfolozi Wilderness Area by saying NO to the Fuleni Coal Mine and YES to keeping Wilderness Areas sacred.

Social, Cultural & Behavioral Issues in PHC & Global Health

Social, Cultural and Behavioral Foundations of Primary Health Care (JHSPH)

Patterns of Creation

Meditations and Creative Exploration of Kabbalah and the Tree of Life

RHF INDIA

The Complete Human Body

Under The Banyan

Stories about us and nature

Canoe Communications

live in the moments that matter

Wild Horse Education

Advocates for Public Lands, Public Horses

Another Bag, More Travel

Just another WordPress.com site

Hiking Photography

Beautiful photos of hiking and other outdoor adventures.

Marcia Rosenberg’s Animal Advocacy

The sole purpose of this website is to provide a location for published articles and news videos regarding Marcia Rosenberg’s animal advocacy.

All Glamour All the Time

What's up at Locket's Meadow Farm

oahuhiking

Oahu hikes

%d bloggers like this: