Home Improvement Contractor’s nowadays continue to be dominated by men, and therein lies an increasing problem with how to avoid an exploitative home improvement contractor.
Women are easy to exploit during home improvement projects. More and more women are living alone, and yet they are if anything more focused than ever on the condition of their homes. That means that more and more often they are starting home remodelling contracts. The dominant male workforce employed by these firms is by its nature high in male hormones, and frequently domineering. The result is that there is little protection for the woman who lives alone, while the contractor has free access into the client’s home, during the work.
In fact, many women feel that they have been provided with an end result to their home remodelling project which is not truly as they intended.
There are also many who believe that the cost has been intentionally inflated by added “extras”, for which they have been charged each time they asked the contractor to work differently, or alter incorrectly installed work.
Above 80% of home remodelling projects run over budget by more than 20%, and that is an appalling statistic for householders who have the right to expect professional building contractors to better estimate their costs in advance.
But, not all contractors in this field of work seek to exploit their female clients (or indeed male project commissioners!), so how do you avoid hiring one of those all-too-common fraudsters?
1. Speak to Friends for Recommendations
The number one best method of finding a good contractor is to seek out recommendations from friends whom you trust. Most people will have been told this many times, but this cannot be said too often. It is an appealing prospect to log-in to your phone or tablet and search for a local contractor, and may only take 5 minutes to find a selection of them to call, within your local area. But, be careful. Unless they come with a recommendation from someone you trust, you may be deceived by clever salesmanship. Also, as female client, you have no idea of their ability to work for a woman unless you can ask a friend about their experience.
If you are going to ensure that the property will be built to a high standard, and you don’t have friends in the area who are able to recommend a suitable contractor, consider appointing a Building Inspector to act on your behalf. The inspector will view the work at every critical stage for you.
Very often, the inspectors working for a home inspection services company like 4WallsCheckers, will hold the best insight into the true abilities of the local contractors of anyone. Once appointed they will usually be willing to suggest good contractors to contact. The benefits of appointing qualified professional home inspectors (surveyors) to oversee that the quality of the work meets local minimum quality standards, usually exceeds the cost of their fees.
2. Obtain Multiple Quotations
This one is a hard one. It can be a harder thing for a woman to achieve than a man, due to our less spatial/ 3 dimensional way of thinking. Ideally, in order to obtain comparative quotations it is by far the best to write your own simple “specification” of the materials you want the contractor to use, and a list of tasks that the bidder must include in their price.
Without that you will find it difficult to be sure that a lower price is genuinely the one to go for. without a specification and a list of tasks, it may be that the lower price simply includes less work! If so, you will probably pay more at the end of the job, when the avoid an exploitative home improvement contractor adds in all sorts of “extras”.
We know it is tedious getting multiple quotations for your project, but doing that work at the start usually makes things so much easier later on.
3. Check Compliance with License Requirements Under Local State Law
The next step is to check out the contractor’s legal credentials, unless of course you already know them through a friend who has already done this step. The general public never cease to be amazed how poorly a lot of contractors perform, especially in large cities, where work is abundant, and there is always a new client they can find.
Ensuring that your contractor complies with the local regulations is one simple step which is often neglected, but can be very important. Simply, ask for sight of the necessary documentation when you meet the contractor. No genuine contractor will have any problem with that.
4. Check with the Department of Consumer Affairs
Look up the contractor on the website of your local Department of Consumer Affairs. It will take less than 5 minutes to see whether there are any references to that contractor. Take care to read any statements about the contractor, and act wisely on the information if it exists.
5. Ask to View the Contractor’s Insurance
The have been instances where the contractor has told a client that he holds full professional indemnity insurance, but later when the client seeks to claim it turns out that the insurance had lapsed.
The lesson here to avoid an exploitative home improvement contractor, is to always check the certificate and make sure you look at the date of the cover stated on the document.
6. Look Up Your Contractor on the Better Business Bureau Website
As we said in item 4., you can’t be too careful, and also as in 4., you can look up the contractor’s listing, and be re-assured if it appears to be complete and up to date.
7. Paper Always Reigns Supreme to Avoid an Exploitative Home Improvement Contractor!
Obtain a piece of paper, for all important aspects of your agreement about the content of the contract. All estimates and warranties need to be recorded on paper, in case of problems later.
We all like to befriend our contractors if they are efficient and helpful when doing the work, so there is a temptation to do all the earlier steps, and then just shake hands before the work begins! This is what not to do if you are ging to avoid an exploitative home improvement contractor. It is a big mistake almost always.
Just take one more steps and insist on an agreed final version of the quotation, with any insurance and warranties to be provided by the contractor clearly stated.
Any dispute will usually amount to one person’s word against another’s unless the right piece of paper has been exchanged. You won’t avoid an exploitative home improvement contractor getting his way, without pieces of paper!
There is no need for complex legal language, just plain English and a clear statement of the work, plus the price to be charged. Other matters might also be included, such as how and when the contractor will make access into your home to do the work, how long it will take to complete, at what stage of the work payment will be made, any warranties which will apply, and the price.
There you have it. We have listed our 7 tips on hiring a home improvement contractor. Use these and you should have a very good chance to avoid appointing an exploitative (fraudulent) contractor to do the work, on your next remodelling project.
That way there is no reason why women commissioning home improvement works should encounter any trouble at all with the actions of their appointed home improvement contractor. In addition they should get tradesmen who provide quality work at a fair price.
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