Homeowners Continue To Get Fleeced By Would Be ‘Contractors’
With the popularity of reality shows such as “HGTV” homeowners are increasingly taking on home renovations, or purchasing homes with the idea of then updating or improving them. This has become fruitful ground for unscrupulous ‘contractors’.
The first thing you should be doing is checking with the Va. Dept. of Professional and Occupational Regulation (“DPOR”) and making sure your potential contractor has a contractor’s license. If the contractor does business in a name other than his own name, you should be asking him the full name of his company and ascertaining with the Va. State Corporation Commission that he is, in fact, a corporation or limited liability company. These should be prerequisites to signing any written contract with him (assuming he provides you with one). If the prospective contractor does not offer you a written contract, the bells and whistles should go off. Not only is he to offer you a written agreement, but it must contain at least ten (10) disclosures required by DPOR. Licenses come in three (3) classes; A, B and C. The latter two limit the dollar amount of a construction contract. Do your homework.
It is also imperative to take the time to spell out the scope of work he is undertaking. There is no such thing as too much detail when it comes to this as you may be called upon to rely on the agreement at the end of the day. If there are ‘allowances’ in the contract for such things as light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, kitchen cabinets, tile, etc., make sure the allowances are for material only and the labor is already included. It does not cost the contractor anymore to install expensive cabinets rather than cheap ones. It does not cost him anymore to install ‘moen’ plumbing fixtures as opposed to ‘delta’. If you have any concerns going in contact a construction attorney and go through your questions with him before you started rather than after when you are in litigation.