Thursday, July 07, 2011

Do Those Do It Yourself Home Impovement Shows Help Or Hinder The Trades?

I participate in a few forums and blogs and one of the questions posed was if those home improvement shows that depict do-it-yourself weekend projects as being potentially hurtful to the trades and not portraying the real work that goes into the final result. Some actually thought it hurt their business and others thought it devalued their expertise. Still others thought, that ultimately there would be mistakes to correct and in the end good for them. Also that the real work needed to be done behind the scenes wasn't being shown, leaving the impression that it was all too easy to tackle for a weekend project. There were also a few who agreed with me to the extent that education is never a bad thing, as there is a lesson to be learned in all of it - good or bad. Here's my say on it:

I must say that as a homeowner and someone who teaches consumers around the subject of avoiding a home remodeling disaster and choosing their contractor wisely, education is much needed even if it comes in a more sensationalized version from the media. At the very least it opens their minds to the possibilities as well as the potential for problems. Consumers are creating the demand for these shows to satisfy their curiosity and entertainment needs. And I’m seeing more of these shows becoming created through the various media query outlets seeking experts to cast for these shows. They’re here to stay so rather than resist it, why not take the opportunity to educate your customer based on this very subject and inject some reality behind it all?

Both my husband and myself are big do-it-yourselfers, but we know our limits. He has a construction background and I took it upon myself to take classes in order to execute certain finishes. We’ve both been inspired in the past as a result of something we saw on these shows and always farm it out if it’s beyond our abilities. So a professional tradesperson gets some work as a result of our exposure to an idea from a show. That’s a win-win.

Sure there are those who get in over their heads but then that becomes a lesson learned – especially if it cost them more to correct. Finally, having been in the media myself, yes they are looking to create a big impression upon their audience and entertain them at the same time, which is after all, what people want when they sit down in front of their TV sets. And if there is an educational aspect around it, all the better.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Contributing Writer for cover2cover

Delighted to be a contributing writer for an online digital magazine.  I'll be writing about all things \ home improvement!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Contruction Consultant Stiffed By Homeowners - Recourse?

A construction consultant contacted me regarding a homeowner who stiffed him for non-payment claiming that they were owner-builder and therefore employers and didn't have to pay him. He filed a Mechanics Lien and they stated that they were employers as this was an owner builder project and cited some legal reason supporting their case.

Now I don't know all the particulars but it appears that he was only paid for a portion of his consultations for the overall project. Which if true, the homeowners should be taken to task on this in the form of civil litigation.  But of course, the cost to do so may outweigh his fees that have not been paid and it will become a learning experience for him. 

Well, besides him needing to consult with a construction law attorney on just what recourse he has, (he is a contractor and mechanic lien rights are mandated statutes so I'm curious as to how this plays out)  the homeowners are required to register with federal, state and local governments as employers and pay their share of taxes. They probably didn't do that, and when he reports them to these agencies, the penalties and back taxes along with the hassle from government investigators will no doubt have them thinking if stiffing the guy was worth it. Karma does have it's way of coming around - good or bad!

I wrote an article on this subject awhile back. If you haven't read this article on Owner Builder you can read it here:

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Contractor Problems

I received an email from a homeowner who after signing a contract and moving forward with their remodeling project soon realized they had made a mistake in hiring the contractor.  Which is pretty much what happened to us 11 years ago. My Horror Story and Warning Signs section offered her validation that she was not alone and needed to take action before things got worse.

Unfortunately, from this point forward there are going to be costs not anticipated, such as hiring an attorney to review a contract that is likely devoid of any protective clauses including right to terminate based on specific actions or lack thereof.  Time lines were not being honored by the contractor, who kept offering reassurances that all would be well. They want to terminate the contract but of course fear the ramifications of that and rightly so. In the mean time, they are trying to be patient, asking questions and hoping for the best.  So now they are at the mercy of their contractor, the very thing I teach folks how not to be!  It is my biggest pet peeve that consumers choose their contractors poorly and don't take the time to get educated on their rights, the contractors rights, contractor state laws such as Mechanics Liens, Preliminary Notices, Lien Waivers, background checks and so much more. 

People just don't realize the need to get informed on what I call the pre-renovation process that takes you through all the ins and outs of contracting for a home renovation project and understand what's at stake.

You need to prepare yourself to undertake a project that is going to consume your money and protect that consumption of money from being unfairly drained further due to poor choices and a lack of knowledge.  We consumers are the only ones that are responsible for protecting ourselves from unscrupulous business practices because the government can't and won't protect us. And litigation is a costly way to seek justice and to right a wrong.

If you're planning on renovating then plan on getting educated on the realities and risks and get informed - Join the Home[Pre]modeling Boot Camp for Women (and The Men Who Love Them!) and learn how to prevent a home remodeling disaster and have a more positive experience instead!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Not Knowing Your Rights Can Cost You

I recently received an email from a homeowner who asked if he should sign a Mechanics Lien document that was included with the contract he was to sign to begin a home renovation project. He made reference to some article he read - perhaps on my site - and wanted some clarification.

First off, a general contractor should not be giving the homeowner a Mechanic's Lien along with the contract. And I have no idea exactly where this homeowner is in the process but my advice was to immediately contact a construction law attorney to review what he was given.  Moreover, I detected through his writing that English may be his second language so there is another layer of challenges in what is potentially a  risky undertaking - IF you don't know what your contractor state laws are. 

These kinds of questions are the very reason I created my Home [Pre]emodeling Bootcamp For Women (and The Men Who Love Them!) in an effort to get people educated on making good choices, conducting the right research and getting engaged in doing the work needed to mitigate problems and stay in control of their project and money.

Learn more about the Bootcamp here before you make any decision regarding contractors and your home renovation project.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Avoid The Heartbreak Of A Home Remodeling Project Gone Wrong: 5 Mistakes Homeowners Make When Hiring Contractors

It’s a fact.  There are both good and bad contractors working in the industry.  And it’s no secret to consumers that remodeling nightmares exist as we’ve either read about them or know of folks who have been through it.  Yet time and again, consumers find themselves in trouble with their projects and contractors as a result of their lack of knowledge on what they need to do to protect themselves from unscrupulous business practices.

Home improvement is one of the top industries noted for fraud and customer dissatisfaction and has consistently been ranked as such over the last decade, according to the Consumer Federation of America, The National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators and North American Consumer Protection Investigators.

While much of the blame falls on the home improvement industry... Read more here

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Danger Of Accepting A Low Bid

The following article is by guest contributor and General Contractor Keith Lazerson of KL9 Construction in San Diego, CA. It's on a subject I have commented and written on many times and Keith's perspective as an ethical contractor is much appreciated. A must read for homeowners.

Today, more than ever, you need to be careful in choosing a home improvement contractor. Many companies have been hit hard by the recent recession and are desperate for work. Consequently, a lot of contractors are resorting to some unscrupulous tactics in order to get jobs. The most common of these practices is offering a tantalizing low bid on a project with the intention of tacking on extra charges after the job has started. It’s simply a contractor’s version of the old bait and switch. Read the rest of the article here.

Thursday, March 10, 2011’s Home Remodeling Blog Is Named in the Top 50 Home Building Blogs

Delighted to have this blog recognized by the construction industry. Read the Press Release here:

5 Key Tips For Hiring The Right Contractor For Your Home Remodeling Project (and avoid the contractor from hell!)

Hiring the right home renovation contractor really is an “inside job” that requires thoughtful research on the part of the homeowner. Folks who are considering renovating their homes this year should plan first on getting educated about hiring the right contractor for their project and understanding their rights.

The fact is that home improvement has consistently ranked at the top for consumer dissatisfaction and fraud according to various consumer agencies.
Continue reading article here...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Home Improvement Expert At!

Delighted to be one of the Home Improvement Experts at!
eLocal is thrilled to announce a new blog-off series that will bring bloggers and professionals together to discuss hot topics and exciting trends in home

Top 50 Home Building and Cosntruction Blogs

My "Home Remodeling Bootcamp Blog" got nominated as one of the top 50 home construction blogs - thank you! See it here:
If you are a home remodeler, home builder or a construction manager who is about to begin a remodeling project, the list of the top 50 construction and home-building industry jobs on this page can be of great benefit to you. Here, you will hear first-hand information from a wide range of constructio

Monday, January 31, 2011

The “Green Approach” To Hiring Home Renovation Contractors

3 Tips Homeowners Can Use to Reduce Wasteful Spending and Create a Sustainable Project That Moves Forward With Fewer Problems

Summary: Green building has been growing as way to reduce waste, conserve energy and repurpose materials, all with the goal of creating a sustainable home. Using these same principals is what I call the “green approach” to hiring home renovation contractors that will reduce wasteful spending, conserves time and energy and contributes to a sustainable project that moves forward with few problems and a positive experience for everyone.

Green building has been all the rage the last couple of years and for good reason. Reducing waste, conserving and repurposing materials and creating a sustainable structure and project benefit’s everyone and protects the environment.

But did you know that you could apply these same principals when hiring home remodeling contractors that will protect your money by reducing the potential for wasting it while creating clear and concise guidelines that both parties can consistently depend on to guide them throughout the project?

Read the rest of the rest of the article: