When it comes to hiring a contractor to perform home maintenance, repairs, or remodeling, the entire process proceeds fairly smoothly 99% of the time. You contact a company or individual, they come out and perform the required service, you pay them for their work, your problem is fixed, and life goes on.
But it’s that 1% of incidents that fall under the category of “contractor horror stories,” when something goes horribly wrong during the home remodeling experience. And an even smaller percentage of those cases that are so egregious that arbitration or lawsuits are necessary.
That’s what happened in Raleigh County, West Virginia back in October of 2013. According to public records, Robert Cook hired a company called Gutter Pro to come to his home and install a new gutter system. Shortly after the work was completed, Cook claims to have noticed water overflowing his new gutters and leaking behind them. Gutter Pro apparently tried to make an adjustment but failed to repair the leakage problem. As a result, Cook filed a lawsuit this past December against Gutter Pro seeking damages which include the $5,500 cost of installation.
Based on these basic details, it’s hard to determine whether the homeowner could have taken steps to prevent what ultimately became a legal matter. However, there are ways to minimize the chances of winding up in Cook’s shoes. Here are some suggestions on avoiding contractor horror stories:
- Conduct research. Don’t just hire a contractor out of a phone book or off an online bulletin board. Take the time to examine several companies who handle the work you need and then do some online research. Check for online reviews, search for complaints against them, and see what warranties they offer. Then get cost estimates from a few of them to compare pricing before making your choice.
- Communicate and document. Before the contractor starts, make sure you understand all the work that must be done and how much it will cost. Ask questions if necessary, and obtain contact information from the contractor in case an unexpected problem arises after the job is done. Finally, read the entire invoice or work order to confirm that everything is in writing before you sign off on it.
- Inspect the work. As soon as the contractor is finished, examine his handiwork as closely as you can. You don’t want to be surprised later on if you discover something that isn’t to your liking. And if you do notice an issue, bring it to the contractor’s attention immediately; don’t put it off and hope that it resolves itself.
- Don’t pay until you’re satisfied. Most contractors require payment upon completion of a project; however, don’t hand over a check or your credit card unless you’re confident that the work was performed properly. It’s much more difficult to get a contractor back to your home if he already has money in his pocket.
- Give the contractor a chance to make it right. Worst-case scenario, if something bad does happen after a contractor is finished, you shouldn’t necessarily run to your lawyer’s office. Provide the contractor an opportunity to fix the problem and/or remedy the damage on his own. More often than not, the situation will get resolved much more quickly than if you elect to head to court.
Harry Helmet has a proven track record of quality workmanship and superior customer service. Plus, they also back up all of their jobs with a strong warranty. That’s why Harry Helmet has been in business for over 30 years installing seamless gutters, new roofs, awnings, and gutter protection systems. If you need new gutters, contact Harry Helmet online or by calling 1-888-5-HELMET for a free, on-site cost estimate.
Written by Del Thebaud