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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Bad weather brings 'shoddy' contractors to town

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The recent rash of bad weather brought more than wind damage to town. With the amount of roof and other damages to homes, local contractors are concerned that disreputable contractors may scam homeowners.

According to the Better Business Bureau, home improvement scams are probably the single biggest source of complaints they receive. The number grew last month with the amount of wind damage that occurred in Putnam County.

Local contractor Brett Hurley suggests that homeowners be careful especially if someone just shows up at their door offering to make repairs.

Commonly referred to as a door-to-door sale, it's a favorite among bogus home improvement operators and victims of weather-related disasters are common targets.

Hurley noted that a number of out-of-town contractors have been in the area offering to make repairs to damaged homes.

"You don't just buy the first car you see," says Hurley. "You shop around first. Homeowners need to do the same thing when hiring a contractor."

Many of the "gypsy" contractors work out of their pickup trucks.

"If they are driving a crummy looking truck with a bumper falling off they probably do sloppy work," adds Hurley.

The Office of the Attorney General has issued a warning about buying from door-to-door contractors. They advise a person to be skeptical of anyone who just shows up offering to make repairs. They may trick homeowners into signing a contract without disclosing all the charges.

"These people often claim to have just finished working on a neighbor's house and have extra materials left over which they try to sell to you at a bargain price," Hurley said.

"A good contractor won't have left over materials. If you have left over materials from another job then you have probably cheated the first customer," he adds.

Other advice given by Hurley and the Attorney General's office include:taking time to make your decision. Ask for references and talk to people who have used their services.

Opt for the local, well-established contractor. Don't assume that an ad makes the contractor reliable.

Compare bids and services. Be skeptical if the bid is too low. Cheaper is not necessarily better.

"A contractor with a low price may be inexperienced and unable to finish the work for the amount bid," Hurley said.

Get bids in writing and make sure they are detailed.

Get a written contract. Indiana law requires home improvement contracts exceeding $150 to be in writing.

Never pay for the entire project before the work begins. Do not pay more than one-third of the total cost as a down payment. Remaining payments should be tied to completion of specified amounts of work.

Check to make sure the contractor is licensed, bonded and insured.

"My father had a bad experience with someone he hired who was not insured. The man cut off his finger with a power saw. It cost my dad's homeowners insurance over $100,000," Hurley said. "And, it was all because the contractor wasn't insured."

David Wood with John Wood Builders told the BannerGraphic he has not had any reports of out of area contractors, but his company does have a lot of repair work lined up as soon as the weather breaks.

Even if precautions are taken, problems may arise, according to the AG's office. Take time talk to your contractor to resolve these issues. If problems continue, put your complaints in writing and send them to the contractor.

Anyone who thinks they may have been approached by a disreputable contractor can contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division at www.IndianaConsumer.com

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My brother does home repairs, he is not a contractor but he does great work. So saying that someone who does home repairs from their truck is bad you are wrong.

-- Posted by turtleluv on Sat, Mar 8, 2008, at 10:42 AM

I agree with Turtleluv. Just because you have a fancy truck doesn't make you a good contractor. Real people are capable of doing good work. Never count out the little guy.

-- Posted by concerned19 on Sat, Mar 8, 2008, at 1:35 PM

I have to agree with you on that Turtleluv. I guess Hurley does his repair off of a bicycle.

-- Posted by BFX6 on Sat, Mar 8, 2008, at 1:37 PM

Watch out for the "Irish Travelers" or "Gyspies" from down south. They prey on areas that have had storm damage.

-- Posted by purple_heat on Sat, Mar 8, 2008, at 5:35 PM

Why did the republican articles have the comment section removed?

-- Posted by localman on Sat, Mar 8, 2008, at 5:56 PM

I'd rather hire a guy working out of his pickup than a GC contractor - at least he showed up and did SOME work and probably did not charge you an exorbitant amount.

-- Posted by Former Resident on Sat, Mar 8, 2008, at 7:55 PM

He is not specifically pointing out your brother, turtleluv. He is merely pointing out a scam that is perpetrated every year. Sure, you would hire your brother to do the work BECAUSE YOU KNOW HIM. This article is talking about people you don't know that just happen to show up after a storm. Seeing as how the Office of the Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau is completely agreeing with him, I'd say the man speaks the truth. If a deal sounds to good to be true, it is. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.

-- Posted by LangdonUlger on Mon, Mar 10, 2008, at 9:35 AM

As operations manager for ABC Exteriors I just wanted the opportunity to say that it is sad that there are so many people out there scamming homeowners and making it hard for those contractors that are reliable and dependable. The best advice I give homeowners is check out a company or indvidual with the BBB. We do canvass areas where there is storm damage but our reputation with the BBB and longevity in working with homeowners and their insurance companies allows us to stand out from the crowd. So just because someone is out door knocking does not mean they are out to scam you. However always be sure to check out a company before signing any type of contract.Also I saw many roofs being installed in cold inclimate weather, this is a sign of someone out for the fast dollar. Roofs should ideally be installed when the temp is 45 degrees and rising. Hope this info helps some in how they determine who to do business with in the future.

-- Posted by reliable contractor on Mon, Mar 10, 2008, at 1:48 PM

Reliable Contractor said it best. I did not think any of the comments or quotes were bad in any way. I simply think the story was trying to tell consumers to do their homework before choosing a contractor. There are bad ones out there and a consumer should be sure to do some research before they give them anything or sign anything. Out of town does not mean scam artist anymore than in town does. Both should be researched before they are hired.

-- Posted by johnny1010 on Mon, Mar 10, 2008, at 3:07 PM

As a business owner in Greencastle I have gotten some very shotty work done by what most people would say are "reputable" contractors that work in Greencastle. Not only do they charge you a ridiculous amount of money for the work, the work they perform is subpar at best. I am speaking of the roofers in Greencastle specifically because that is who I have done business with. The next time I need roofing work done I will definitely go out of the city for a contractor.

-- Posted by 6dogs on Thu, Mar 13, 2008, at 8:31 AM

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