Thursday, March 13, 2008

Last week I got a call from a woman who was referred to me by a contractor whom I know. I typically don't take calls from homeowners but rather prefer they go to my site and glean the information they need there. But the woman was in a terrible position with another contractor, needed some answers that the "good" contractor couldn't provide and he knew I would be able to steer her in the right direction.

After hearing about her situation - and it was just so typical of unethical behavior - I gave her some suggestions on what steps she needed to take and made sure that she filed a complaint with the Contractors State License Board. To that end, I also sent an email to the Enforcement Chief giving him the contractors license number along with the woman's phone number so that he could contact her. And he did. The woman called me immediately after she spoke with him and was so emotional, in tears, and grateful for all the support she was receiving. I was just glad that she found a good contractor that I know and that the Enforcement Chief followed up on my request to contact this woman. So, here's what happened:

The woman hired a contractor to do the necessary repairs to her house that suffered severe smoke damage. She had met him on the horse trails around her home where many other homes were lost in the fires. After striking up a conversation with her, he told her he was a contractor and that if she wanted to get a bid he would be willing to access the damage. He then "convinced" her that he would wait for the insurance money and could get started right away. Well, he apparently had her sign two different contracts and she added some stipulations of her own in the second contract which also stated he was to get $1000 to start the project.

As the project began, the contractor's attitude changed from nice guy to one of being ticked off, was verbally abusive and constantly asking for more money. The woman, in her early fifties, recently became disabled and he was aware of her limitations. He wanted to know the entire amount she was getting from the insurance company - which is none of his damn business - and thankfully she declined to disclose the amount. The work itself was shoddy and the roof replacement was horrible, according to the insurance company who came out to inspect the work. He quickly told the woman to fire this contractor and get someone who is competent and experienced to repair his work as there were safety issues at stake as well. The situation only got worse after this.

When she told the contractor about the insurance report which was documented, the contractor started screaming at her and told her she HAD to let him back to do the necessary repairs on his own work. Really? Why didn't the idiot just do it right in the first place then? Answer: Because he's incompetent to do it right, doesn't know how and doesn't care about performing quality work; he's just out to make a buck, not build a business with a solid reputation. And no, she doesn't have to let him back in to do the repairs if he's proven that he can't do it right, which he has, and it's documented.

So what does he do? Why, he threatens to sue and lien her home of course. And get this: the guy just got his license in December of 2007 and three months into having the license he's already threatening to sue and lien a homeowner not to mention the shoddy work he performed. Wonder where he learned that from?!! This is the ugly part of the construction industry that sadly exists and seems to be growing as new licensees enter the arena and others who are struggling to stay afloat just "switch sides" and start behaving badly, violating the contractors' laws and no longer interested in building their business. It's all about the money. Seasoned contractors who are in it to build a solid business and a good reputation wouldn't even think of creating a scenario like the one I just described and I'm glad to say I know quite a few of them these days as a result of own work with my site.

The only thing the woman did was to check his license status with the CSLB and as I always say, just because someone has a license doesn't necessarily mean that they will be ethical or perform quality work that meets industry standards. And this is a perfect example of just that.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Here's a recent email I've received from a Casting Director in New York. They are actively looking for both homeowners and contractors who are having problems with their remodeling projects. So if you think you fit the bill - whether you're a homeowner or a contractor - contact them. They need some folks to work with so don't hesitate to contact them.

Hi, I just took a look at your site and it is a really helpful resource. I am a casting director for superfine films and we are casting a show that deals with home owners and contractors. I was hoping you might know some families that are in need of help. Thanks in advance for all of your help.

CASTING CALL FOR HOMEOWNERS AND CONTRACTORS IN DISPUTE My name is Michael Raptis and I am the Casting Director for Superfine Films. We are a TV production company based out of New York City. I am looking to cast Homeowners and Contractors for a home renovation dispute mediation and resolution TV show. Most of the homeowners and contractors that cross your path would love the opportunity that our TV show offers. I am seeking out current disputes that I might be able to help resolve to the satisfaction of both parties. Could you share with me some leads? The scope and breadth of the dispute can range from any of the problems you usually see including, but not limited to, type of work, budget, build problems, personal problems, and homeowner changes. Since we are a television show, we MUST complete the project in a relatively short amount of time (about 6 days), which will fit nicely with the needs of a homeowner and contractor. This means we seek projects that are large enough in scope to show a good "before" and "after" experience, and small enough in scope to be finished in no more than about three weeks.

Some examples would be a kitchen expansion, new room, bathroom remodel, garage build, etc. Please keep in mind that we will consider all sizes of work if the people and the project appear good for the show. We intend to make absolutely sure that the dispute is solved to the satisfaction of both parties and that the project gets done right, on time and on budget. It should be a benefit for the homeowner via dispute resolution and project management, and for the contractor for the same reasons as well as excellent publicity for his or her business. And of course, it could save them both the time and cost of legal action. Interested parties should contact me immediately! The sooner we speak, the sooner we can try to resolve these disputes! Please call or email me ASAP! Michael Raptis Casting Director Superfine Films 60 Grand Street, 4th Floor New York, NY 10013 O: 212-941-6838 C: 646-784-0779 Email Michael Raptis

ABOUT THE COMPANY:Superfine Films is a Manhattan based film and television production company specializing in high-quality social issue documentary and reality television. Our mission is to create unique, compelling, genre-redefining content that challenges, excites and engages viewers from start to finish. Founded five years ago by award-winning filmmaker and television producer Steven Miller, Superfine has since grown to include the talents and energies of a tightly knit corps of writers, producers, shooters and editors, and is represented by N.S. Bienstock. Superfine is currently in production on the sixth season of the hit show Psychic Detectives, the Court TV crime documentary series that explores the use of psychics by law enforcement and how psychics have helped to actually solve crimes; and Rock and Roll Acid Test, the Fuse Network series that plays a wild game of Truth or Dare when we put music myths and legends under the hot lights of our ultimate scientific testing. Past work includes Heroes, a reality recreation based series for the Hallmark Channel, which depicts stories of ordinary citizens in acts of extraordinary courage. Superfine was nominated for an Emmy for the documentary film Meeting with a Killer: One Family's Journey, a story of redemption and forgiveness set inside one of Texas' most notorious prisons.

P.S. Sorry for not posting the past 4 weeks but that nasty flu bug invaded our home and we're all just getting back to life!