Your home is your castle, your sanctuary. It is the place you go to retreat from the stresses of life. It should be a place where you feel safe and protected. When you contract with construction or repair professionals to do work on your home, you expect them to treat it with respect and to provide the kind of expert workmanship you deserve. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. When you discover or suspect that the work done on your home is not up to par, how should you deal with it? Consider some of the advice given below.
Document the Situation
Regardless of the situation, delay in completion, sloppy workmanship or any area of the work that raises questions or concerns, document the details and your communication with the contractor. Take photos, when appropriate. Document your communication by putting it in writing, such as an email or, even better, a certified letter. Clearly outline your expectations and your intent to terminate the contract if the work is not redone according to the standards of your contract.
Request a Timely Remedy of the Situation
Always begin by requesting the original professional to remedy the situation and agree to a deadline for when that correction will be completed. Again, document these agreements in writing. If the problem is not corrected in the timeline agreed upon, it may be time to halt any further work or release of payment.
Get a Second Opinion
If you and your contractor do not see eye-to-eye on the need for a remedy, don’t hesitate to get a second opinion. This could be from a professional home inspector or another construction professional, such as your local building inspector.
Understand Your Legal Rights
Protect yourself by consulting with legal counsel. If you are hesitant to seek out legal representation, remember that each state has its own regulations regarding proper procedures for handling unprofessional work on your home. Check your state government website to find the department which can provide you information related to proper legal procedures for protecting your property and ending your legal commitment to the contractor.
Avoid the Problem by Hiring True Professionals
The best advice related to unprofessional workmanship comes from Eric Larson, lead architect at RemWhirl Architecture and Landscape Design – make sure you’re hiring a true professional for your project before it starts. This is especially true when they are building or remodeling your home. “A professional will know how to ask you the right questions,” Larson counsels. “They will want to understand your lifestyle and how you use your home, so they can design it accordingly.”
Likewise, you should ask the right questions of them. Ask for proof of their licensure as a contractor or architect in your state and city. Request proof of current liability insurance in the form of a certificate of insurance sent to you direct from their insurance company (not a copy of their policy). Ask for references that include customers who have hired them to complete similar projects on their homes, and then take the time to contact them.
Choosing a reputable contractor to do work on your home is the biggest safeguard against these problems. Always, no matter how highly recommended, insist on a detailed written contract that specifies the entire scope and payment terms for the work, including your right to terminate the contract for non-performance of standard work practices.
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