About Protecting Yourself With Research
A Contractor Named Sue
Almost every homeowner engages the services of a construction contractor at some point during their lifetime. Homeowners hire one to remodel a home before they even move in, or do so later on for additions, remodels, or major repairs. It's a sure bet for a homeowner that during a twenty year span living in the same dwelling will need a roof replaced, new paint job, or some new counters and floors. Construction projects can be small or large, and cost hundreds, to over a hundred thousand dollars. They can also encompass one day or one year to complete. The latter mentioned time frames are always in flux where contractors are concerned, and as generalizations go, contractors are always behind schedule. Likewise, they often underestimate the duration of the project, and to a lesser degree, the cost. Some of those characteristics are just basic human nature, but can also be rooted in the unpredictability of weather, employees, and unforeseen circumstance. All of these factors can contribute to strained relationships, and infringe upon a homeowners living space as well as their pocketbook, so it pays to start with the most reputable and qualified contractor in the first place. Hiring a contractor can be as simple as signing your name and writing a check. Whether you hire one on the recommendation of another person, or pluck names from a phone book, there are no guarantees of performance, however choosing carelessly increases the chance that your contractor will not perform to your liking. For this reason, a little research goes a long way before you ink a legal contract or plunk down a deposit.
What can go wrong?
A lot of things can go wrong if you hire the wrong contractor. If he's habitually late with previous projects, there's little chance things will be different with yours. Maybe he oversold his abilities when bidding the job, or schedules more jobs than he or she can actually follow through on at any given time.You could also engage the services of a contractor and get a convicted sex offender at no extra charge. Maybe he is going through a rough patch and just got arrested for two DUI's in a row. Any one of these scenarios, and a host of others can be crippling to a homeowner who has planned for the inconvenience of a week long job, only to have it turn into three months. There's another pitfall that can really trip up an unsuspecting homeowner, or small business after entering a contract with a builder or remodeler, and this is where our contractor named Sue comes in. This pitfall can be an expensive one too, because you'll need costly professional help in open-ended amounts to work your way out of it. It's called litigation, or in layman's terms...lawsuits.
I refer to the contractor named Sue, but it's a double entendre. Sue is not so much a person's name as it is a person's habit. Sue has been a small contractor for about 20 years, and averages anywhere from six to a dozen projects per year, ranging in amounts from $10,000. to $150,000. dollars each. Sue also averages 3 - 5 lawsuits per year related to those contracts, which also range in amounts from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of dollars. As statistics go, if you only have six jobs in a year, and three end up in court,.. that's half of your customers suing you, or vice versa. By the numbers, Sue has racked up more than 70 different lawsuits with customers and suppliers in Sacramento and a couple of other neighboring counties, and for a small time contractor, that's a troubling accomplishment. Sue's litigation has caused the loss of some customers homes, savings accounts, businesses, and personal relationships over having a three month job turn into a year of escalating tensions, heated arguments, and overturned personal lives. Sue hasn't escaped completely unharmed in all of this either, but seems to prevail enough on the money portion of these contracts by filing lawsuits and placing liens his customers property. I could write a book about the trials and tribulations Sue's customers have experienced, but what's more important is that everyone be aware that Sue is only a phone call away from your project.
Avoiding Sue - Increasing Your Odds
I've mentioned researching your contractor, and this can be done relatively cheaply . With the proliferation of electronic media, some checking can be done at the fingertips. Sometimes a simple search can produce enough to change a persons mind without looking any deeper. The State Contractors License Board for instance, may prove your subject unlicensed but our previously mentioned Contractor, Sue, has a license. What's more, until recently, there was little on the State Contractors License Board's website that indicated the numerous customers Sue had strained relationships with over the past two decades, so a simple search may be quite deceptive. There are numerous methods we employ, mainly searching through public databases. Although quite a few records are easily obtained, some take time and cost money. If you don't use them regularly, it's not cost effective to do your own research. We use records and databases of many types to do a thorough check. State and federal licensing agencies, municipal service agencies, courts or all types, taxing agencies, County recorders, and vital statistics databases.
Protect Yourself! Research Before You Sign
If you are planning to hire contractors, legal professionals, In home care providers, or any other service providers, or even employees, have a background check performed before you sign contracts or enter into agreements
A background check can give you peace of mind, and help prevent becoming a victim of unscrupulous businesses, habitual criminals, or false representations.
Simple background check can disclose previous or current criminal records, licensing verification, reference verification, punitive or reprimand actions taken by regulatory agencies, code violations, liens, or judgments that may affect performance.
Public Document Distributors is publication of Save Our State, a 501C3 California Non-Profit Public Benefit Corporation. Save Our State provides advocacy for native born Californians, lawful permanent residents, and those with lawful US residency. Public Document Distributors provides education and aid to those wishing to learn about background checks and public records, and provides some services to those Californians who may be unable to obtain or perform those services themselves.
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