Better Business Bureau alert about contractors

Better Business Bureau and Washington State Labor and Industries are issuing an alert to consumers over a recent and steady stream of complaints against contractors. Homeowners wishing to remodel or improve houses complain to BBB that after paying thousands of dollars for home repairs the work is either shoddy or never completed.

Better Business Bureau and Washington State Labor and Industries are issuing an alert to consumers over a recent and steady stream of complaints against contractors. Homeowners wishing to remodel or improve houses complain to BBB that after paying thousands of dollars for home repairs the work is either shoddy or never completed.

“BBB generally sees an increase in home improvement inquiries and complaints during this time of year,” warns Robert W.G. Andrew, CEO of BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington. “Our biggest concern is when homeowners pay a lot of money upfront and get very little or nothing in return.”

To date in 2013, BBB and L & I have received thousands of complaints on contractors and home remodeling companies.

“Most contractors follow the rules,” says Liz Smith, Assistant Director for Fraud Prevention and Labor Standards at the Washington Department of Labor and Industries. “But illegal contractors are not registered, have no insurance and no bond. While L & I can cite the contractor for operating without registration, the victim is still out the money they’ve paid.”

Before building, BBB advises homeowners to first nail down a plan.

 

Lay out the project from start to finish. Be specific. Explain exactly what is desired and understand the contractor’s responsibilities—including zoning, architectural plans and supplies.

Research the credentials. Make sure businesses are bonded, licensed and insured; confirm business licensing and professional licensing through Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.

Check the references. Find out how long contractors have been in business and ask for portfolios of work samples. Talk to former clients about their experiences and if possible, visit past job sites.

Request in-person estimates. Obtain written estimates from at least three contractors and don’t always select the lowest bid. Insist that each estimate include the cost of materials and labor, and get a description of exactly what the contractor will do and how long the project will take.

Get a written contract. Request a full description of the project, complete with start and finish dates. Get a written list of warranties and guarantees on workmanship, total cost, payment schedule, business information and licensing. Never sign a blank or partially-filled agreement and always retain copies.

 

L & I recently launched the ProtectMyHome campaign, where consumers can easily check contractor registrations and find worksheets for screening potential contractors and guides on how to spot problems during projects. BBB and L & I also advise consumers to never entirely pre-pay for services. Visit the BBB Accredited Business Directory for a complete list of quality local contractors.

More in Business

Remember 1993

Twenty-five years ago, business took a beating in Olympia. The swing to the left in the 1992 general election was swift and potent. It drove higher costs to employers and more government regulations.

Remembering Ed Carlson, Vietnam POW

Since last Veteran’s Day, Ken Burns’ in-depth documentary on the Vietnam War has aired. It is a powerful reminder of an unpopular war in which many “baby boomers” fought and died.

LiveLocal98022 meeting cancelled

Bob Green, the night’s speaker, notified the organization he couldn’t attend due to an illness.

Expanded Panama Canal among challenges for Washington Ports

The $5.4 billion spent to expand the Panama Canal is paying off for East Coast and Gulf of Mexico seaports; however, it is putting more pressure on the Northwest to remain competitive.

Players taking a knee hurting the NFL | Don Brunell

On a recent Saturday afternoon in Portland, a young woman stepped onto the playing field at the beginning of the University of Montana vs Portland State football game and started singing our national anthem. She immediately drew a blank on the words and briefly stopped, but as she started apologizing, the fans spontaneously took up the singing.

New metal collecting machine may clean up contaminated waters

There is a new machine being tested in Montana which could decontaminate toxic mine tailings while recovering valuable precious minerals for everyday use.

Workshop will focus on business, social media

All are invited to learn how social media can impact business and how it can be used to create a positive experience for customers.

Impact of Hirst decision must be address

In Washington, the legislative stalemate over permitting new household wells and the state’s construction budget has not only delayed needed funding for public projects, but triggered yet another salvo in the wider conflict over future supplies of fresh water for people, fish and farms.

Mitigate massive wildfire danger | Don Brunell

At last count firefighters were battling 82 major wildfires in 10 western states. The fires have already scorched 2,300 square miles of forests and range lands, dislocated thousands of people, and burned hundreds of homes and buildings.

Silver linings to Hurricane Harvey | Don Brunell

All of the things that went wrong in New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina in 2005, appear to have been corrected with Houston’s recent Hurricane Harvey. Chalk it up to a series of important lessons learned.

Workshops aim to help small business owners and startups | Pierce County Library System

Pierce County Library System, in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), is offering two workshops to help entrepreneurs start and grow a successful business as well as share tips to advance existing small businesses.

Dan Evans would serve America well | Don Brunell

Recently, family, friends and dignitaries gathered at Hurricane Ridge near Port Angeles to celebrate the designation of the Daniel J. Evans Wilderness at Olympic National Park honoring Washington’s distinguished three-term governor and U.S. Senator.