As we head into spring, I am reminded of my yearly frustration with the small percentage of contractors who are dishonest. While most of us in the home improvement business are hardworking, ethical folks who work hard to deliver what we promise, there are those people whose dishonesty or ineptitude serves to give my industry a bad reputation. Every year as the contracting industry awakens from its winter slumber, these types of people come out of the woodwork looking for customers trusting enough to believe their too good to be true offers.

In my opinion, there are two kinds of businesses that this applies to. First is the legitimate company that is desperate to stay in business. These companies will offer to do projects at prices that are not enough to sustain their business in order to get enough cash flow to sustain them for the short term. Companies like this will actually make an effort to complete the work and may actually have some happy customers. Unfortunately, this eventually comes to an end when they are unable to complete a job for the promised price or when they cannot find the next customer to keep the cycle going. When that happens the last couple of customers who were unfortunate enough to provide a deposit will find themselves out of luck.

The other type of "bad" home improvement company is the one that really is bad. These types of companies are made up of predators who will lie to customers to con them out of money for work that they have little intention of actually performing. This is what I would like to focus on today.

As the largest specialty remodeling companies in Pittsburgh, my company, Legacy Remodeling, is in front of thousands of customers each year. As we visit with homeowners to help them with windows, siding, roofing, kitchens, additions, etc, we hear a lot of stories from homeowners who have had experiences with bad contractors. These people are glad to hear about Legacy and have learned the difference between a good contractor and a bad one. Unfortunately there are other folks who we find are comparing us to others who we know factually will at the best leave them with a shoddy and unprofessional job and at worst will flat out steal from them.

Better Business Bureau Logo The BBB is a great resource for finding reputable remodeling companies

Sadly, the homeowners in these cases often want to believe that they can get the job they want for a price that defies logic. As we are also competing for the same work, the homeowner can be reluctant to believe us when we try to expose these people. For this reason, it is very important for the customer to have done their own homework, preferably before the estimate appointment. Homeowners can find information about a company through the Better Business Bureau, the Pennsylvania State Attorney General's Office and through online searches. This way the homeowner can better filter the companies that they speak to. After the appointment, take the time to follow up on a company's claims. If for example a company claims to have a particular certification or license, it is important to verify that claim.

By properly checking out companies before allowing them to work on their homes, consumers can save themselves a lot of trouble later. While it may sound cliche, the truth is, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.