“Don`t pay for something your contractor hasn`t finished yet,” said Alan Goldman, owner in Niskayuna, NY Mr. Mansfield, the general contractor, said customers need to play an active role in the renovation process. “There are many valid reasons why the deadline for projects is extended or the price goes up, but if you don`t take the time to hear about it, weeks later you`ll be surprised to wonder what happened and you`ll feel like you`re being exploited,” he said. Long Island residents should call consumer protection offices in Nassau and Suffolk counties during the licensing review. A contractor with a poor track record in one county can easily get a license in the other county and continue working. Owners may also try to lay criminal charges or file civil lawsuits against contractors, but it can be difficult to prosecute fraudulent contractors. In recent years, however, there have been criminal charges against contractors accused of defrauding homeowners who attempted to restore homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. No one ever intends to hire an inferior contractor, but it often doesn`t take much for a home renovation project to go wrong. The potential problems are multiple: mistreatment, countless delays and a bill that seems to continue to grow. Or worse, an entrepreneur who takes your money doesn`t finish the job and then disappears. And finally, “Ask yourself if you can see working with this contractor,” Taddei said, weeks or even months. “I waited three years to solve this problem,” she said. “Do you think this system is for the consumer? That`s certainly not how it feels.
Of the 1,116 complaints filed against contractors in 2017, 509 were mediated. (Complaints that did not transition to mediation were withdrawn or did not have the necessary documents to move forward.) Of the cases that were mediated, only 71 allowed owners to obtain financial reimbursement from their contractors, while 61 were resolved without financial compensation, but to the satisfaction of the consumer. Some of the remaining cases have been referred to a judge or an external authority such as the Public Prosecutor`s Office for resolution. When it`s time to create a contract, make sure the contractor needs to transfer all upfront payments to an escrow account, Singer said. This is a way to ensure that the entrepreneur does not use your deposit to pay for their next vacation. “If you`re nervous about how the contract should be framed, hire a lawyer to review one,” Singer said. What recourse do you have if you are in dispute with a contractor? If you`re not sure where to start, online services like Sweeten, Bolster, and Homepolish can put you in touch with designers and contractors and even help you manage a renovation. After receiving recommendations from friends and neighbors who have used contractors in recent years, call the appropriate consumer service or go online to see if these contractors are licensed. Contractors working in the five districts need a license from the city`s department of consumption, while general contractors are licensed by the Ministry of Buildings. But Long Island tinkerers get their licenses from the county, and New Jersey licenses are issued by the state. As the holidays approached and his bathroom was far from over, Dr. Goldman, who had lost about $11,500 at the time, had had enough.
In January, he fired the contractor, who was experiencing health problems at the time, admitting he couldn`t complete the renovation. Dr. Goldman said he regretted not having a concise and tailored contract detailing the timing and scope of work with an appropriate payment plan. David Ramroop, a homeowner in Amityville on Long Island, said he hired Capstone Remodeling, a Smithtown-based contractor, to raise his home in 2015 to comply with federal regulations in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. He paid Capstone about $139,000 for work that was never completed and later learned that the house had not been raised to the right height. In the end, he paid another company to finish the job after months of delay. So what can a homeowner do to find a good contractor – and there are plenty of hardworking and skilled craftsmen – and avoid a renovation nightmare? He hired a contractor who made excellent recommendations to renew his master bathroom at the end of July 2016. And although Dr.
Goldman could see that the work was not progressing when the leaves began to fade, the contractor continued to ask for money. Many homeowners use a rule of thirds that divides the total bill into three equal payments: before, during, and after work. This can work well on small projects, but some homeowners who feel cheated about major renovations advise against it and push for a more detailed schedule and payment plan. Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said she would like to bring more charges against the contractors, but the current law makes it difficult because there must be evidence proving that the business owner never intended to quit his job. Moser`s contractor license was revoked in Suffolk and Nassau counties in 2016. When reached by phone, he declined to comment and his attorney, Brian A. Trodden of Castro & Trodden in Smithtown, New York, did not respond to calls. “Although we have received some resistance from local builders` associations, we have been aggressive in its application,” he said. “There are a lot of legitimate people out there, so it`s unfortunate that we still see enough unscrupulous entrepreneurs giving the industry a bad reputation.” Ms. Merman paid the contractor approximately $2,700 prior to his disappearance. As she said, “You get what you pay for.” However, his current dispute with a roofer has tested his patience.
Since their complaint was filed in 2015, the ministry`s contractor has not responded, Heiden said, and the case is now in the administrative hearing system. A city official recently told him that it could take the contractor a year to respond to a subpoena, forcing him to wait longer for a possible repayment of the city`s trust fund. In Ocean County, New Jersey, an area hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, there have been 65 criminal charges against contractors since the 2012 storm, said Stephen Scaturro, director of the county`s department of consumer affairs. If your contractor is licensed, you can also file a complaint with your local consumer department. In New York, once the department has received and reviewed a complaint, it will contact the company and begin mediation. The ministry can resolve your case by requiring the contractor to pay a refund or repair or to terminate the order. First, familiarize yourself with the regulations in your area: DIY laws are not uniform and can vary by state and municipality. And be sure to work with a licensed professional on any home renovation work that costs more than $500. Because, as a woman. Salas warned that if you don`t hire a licensed contractor, “there`s very little recourse.” You can download a standard contract from the American Institute of Architects.
In addition to detailed information about the renovation, the contract must define how the architect, contractor and owner will communicate throughout the project. “It`s heartbreaking,” she said, “because these owners were sacrificed first by the storm and again by their contractor.” Merman said she was stunned when a “rotating occupation of workers” showed up at her home and later discovered the contractor wasn`t paying her. After demolishing the bathroom and tearing off the sockets, the workers stopped showing up. And the entrepreneur finally stopped answering his phone after repeatedly promising to restart work “tomorrow.” Roberta Heiden, a homeowner in Marine Park, Brooklyn, has two experiences with the Department of Consumer Affairs. His first case, in 2009, took about a year to resolve through a departmental agency, and the contractor reimbursed him $5,000 for poor work done on an entrance and garage project. Complaints filed against contractors rank among the top five categories of complaints in New York City year after year, according to the city`s Department of Consumer Affairs. In 2017, 1,116 complaints were filed against contractors and fines of $1.5 million were imposed. James Mansfield, general manager of West Village GC, a Manhattan-based general contractor, said clients should do the same due diligence they would do before investing in a company or mutual fund. “Are you willing to give more than $80,000 or $800,000 to this company?” he said. “Your renovation is an investment in your home, so I`m surprised to see demanding people not asking questions.” Finding a reliable contractor is essential to any home renovation project.
But what do you do when you have a bad one? Once you know that an entrepreneur is licensed, you should do some research online, but not just read reviews. Check the Better Business Bureau to see if a complaint has been filed there. Search with legal research software like LexisNexis to check if any lawsuits have been or have been filed against the contractor. Possible red flags include an owner suing a business for breach of contract, or a subcontractor seeking a large number of overtime hours or payment arrears. Hillary Merman said she now regrets hiring an unlicensed contractor to renovate a bathroom in her terraced home in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn. But she had hired the same contractor years earlier and felt he had been “pretty good” at the time. And he was the lowest bidder. The ministry can also file a complaint against the company and request a decision from an administrative judge through the city`s Office of Administrative Procedures and Hearings. After a hearing, an administrative judge can order a company to pay a refund, impose a fine, or even revoke the contractor`s license. .