We spend almost $200 billion a year on home improvement and that number is expected to go up in the next five years. Deciding on a paint color or roofing material can be simple compared to finding the person who'll actually do the work. Consumer Reports says hire a bad contractor and you could be in for a real disaster.
Jordan Katz wanted to finish his attic. He hired a contractor for what he thought it would be a fairly simple job.
Jordan Katz: "He came in with the sheet rock and a big box of power tools. I gave him a thousand dollars and then never saw him again."
Jordan hired a second contractor, but he wasn't any better
Jordan Katz:"I could tell that the work was really shoddy and he wasn't following the blueprints we had drawn up."
Consumer Reports Mari McQueen says finding a good contractor can be a real challenge.
Mari McQueen: "There are a lot of fly-by-night companies out there and you have to be on your guard."
But whether you're putting on a new roof, residing your house, or just painting the interior, there are ways to pick the right man, or woman, for the job.
Mari McQueen: "We advise you to take three written estimates on any big job, and then possibly throw out the very high and the very low bids. A very low bid may indicate a contractor who is shady or going to cut corners."
When hiring a contractor, check for a history of complaints at the consumer affairs department. Ask to see a state license and proof of insurance. And make sure the deposit you're being asked to pay is reasonable — usually 10 percent.
Mari McQueen “If the contractor gets paid largely up front, they may not have incentive to return and complete the job, or to complete the job to your specification."
That's something Jordan knows all too well. As for his attic? Well, he figured the best way to avoid further aggravation was to finish the job himself. This is James Andrews.
Consumer Reports says another way to ensure your contractor is on the up-and-up — ask for several references. Also, when you're having work done on your home, get the product warranties from your contractor. That way you'll be prepared if there's a defect or a recall down the road.