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To Be or Not To Be…Taken Advantage Of

Watch any tv magazine show and you’re sure to hear these two words: “Investigative Report”. That’s the hook to get you to stay tuned and watch to see who gets caught doing what. Most of these programs are consumer interest stories and give great tips on how to not be the next easy target. None of us want to get taken advantage of when we dole out our hard earned money for a repair or purchase that we must entrust to the professionals. Unfortunately, the larger the scope of work, the greater the chances are of someone trying to take advantage. Enter the shady contractor. This guy will give you a great deal on the front end. He may even have what looks like the proper paper work. There’s no mention of payment up-front…that is until the day he and his crew pull up in your driveway to start the work. Then he is sorry if there was a mis-understanding, but the materials have been ordered and ‘someone’ has to pay. You are the someone. The magazine shows give a list of safeguard to protect the consumer in cases like this, but they have left out a few you may have never thought of.

First, is the construction company local, do they have a business phone number and is the contractor accessible?

– The last thing you need is a contractor who enlists a phone service and screens his cas.

How long has the company been in business?

– You want to deal with a contractor who has built all types of houses, and this comes with years of experience.

Is the contractor a current member of the local Home Builders Association?

– This is important, because members must pay dues and adhere to a code of ethics.  Skip the Better Businesses Bureau and go straight to the town’s city offices. Inquire about code violations and proper permitting. This assures you the builder does not try to cut corners. Don’t bother with his references. No one lists a reference that won’t paint a pretty picture. Go, instead to the suppliers. A good builder is a builder who stays in good standing with supply companies by paying his bills on time.

Remember that a reputable builder will never ask for money up-front.

– The budget is such that there should be a schedule of payments as work progresses. It’s your job to make sure the scheduled payment follows the scheduled completed work of each phase of construction.

A Loaded Question

At one time or another, we have all been asked a loaded question – a question that we better not answer too quickly, or it will back-fire on us. For the contractor, a loaded question comes quite frequently: How much does it cost to build a house these day? The answer, of course, is as varied as the different preferences of homeowners. Oh, sure, there’s a going rate for basic building materials, but this is not what determine the major cost of building a home. Ultimately, the price of a new home is determined by the priorities of it’s owner. Is a standard width driveway fine, or is it important to have a a big circle drive with stamped concrete at the entrance? Is the roof line a customary 10’ and 12’ pitch, or do you desire a varied roof with several cut-in hips and valleys? Inside there are more decisions that determine the cost. Ceiling heights, crown molding, additional or high end lighting, types of flooring and plumbing fixtures, all play major roles in determining the construction budget. What is fine and dandy for one homeowner may be considered sub-par for another. Of course these are the obvious, visible things. There are even more important variables that are unseen, such as foundation materials, insulation, framing materials. It’s the unseen that must be considered most importantly. So now that loaded question really becomes a boomerang question. How much does it cost to build a house these days?” “What kind of house do you want?” The best way to determine the cost of your new home is to make a list of priorities. An experienced contractor can formulate a budget to show where basic cost are and you can determine the cost from there, dependent upon your selections.