If you just purchased one of the Philadelphia homes for sale and want to make it more suitable for your family, or perhaps you’ve been living in your Pittsburgh, Dallas or Phoenix homes for years and want to add on room or make any other renovation, you’ll probably hire a contractor to do it. As the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information division notes, hiring someone for a home improvement project no matter what it is means doing your due diligence to find a quality contractor or it could cost you big time in the end. If you make the realization that you’ve made a bad decision a little too late, here’s how you can best handle the situation.
Keep Everything Documented
It’s important to document all your attempts to reach the contractor to resolve the problem. If they’ve left you with an unfinished project and stop communicating, record all those efforts as the documentation may be required if you have to seek the help of a professional organization or go to court. Send certified letters with the return receipt requested that explains in detail the issues you’re experiencing and that the contractor must contact you immediately. You should create a timeline and assemble a file of all paperwork, including contracts, receipts and canceled checks. Documenting with photographs is essential too, especially for outdoor projects as the situation may look different after winter and your memory may not be as accurate the more time goes on. If the contractor does respond, all discussions should continue to be documented just in case something happens later. If you continue to be ignored, you’ll have to take other action.
Contact Your State’s Licensing Board
Every state has a licensing board for contractor licenses, overseeing businesses that are engaged in construction, repair, removal or improvement of facilities owned by others. They can both issue and cancel a contractor’s license. The board also regulates individuals like plumbers and electricians. You can file a complaint with the board by searching on your state and then logging the complaint one of three ways. It can be mailed to you to fill out and send in, you can fill it out online, or you can download and printed a complaint form to send in.
Contact Your Local News Consumer Report
Many metro areas have a radio or television reporter who acts on the behalf of consumers. They work to expose fraud and right wrongs, like that contractor who took your $10,000 and left you with a half-finished room. Oftentimes they’ll investigate and report on the issue for free – simply research your local news and radio stations online to find a contact or pick up the phone and ask.
Use Social Media
It’s easy to oust bad contractors today thanks to Twitter, Facebook, Yelp and so on. Writing a critical review and broadcasting it throughout social media can be a powerful gamechanger. Sometimes just mentioning to a contractor that you’ll go to social media is enough to turn things around. After all, too many public complaints and poor reviews and they won’t have a business much longer. Be sure that you have documented proof of the fraudulent work, deception, etc. before taking to the Internet. Wrongly hurting someone’s reputation can get you into just as much hot water.