Thursday, May 12, 2016

Experts offer tips for homeowners thinking about remodeling

Experts offer tips for homeowners thinking about remodeling 
Laura Borchers

Many Central Ohio contractors say in the spring their business warms up. Now experts are offering tips to homeowners thinking about taking on a home remodeling project.

"Being in German Village and looking around at different houses, we felt this one had everything we were looking for,” said homeowner Angie Steinhauser. “But every room needed a facelift.”
Steinhauser and her partner Ziad Shaheen hired a contractor and went room-by-room replacing light fixtures, updating walls and in some cases, tearing out drywall.

“We had to tear out something we called the ‘Medusa light’ immediately,” said Shaheen. He went on to say remodeling was not easy. “Just living with contractors, in general. Not anything personal, just the clutter and mess that comes with all of that."

That is why the first piece of advice the couple offers to others is to be careful in selecting the companies who will help you renovate.

"We interviewed a lot of contractors,” said Steinhauser. “I think finding the right contractor who you're going to work well with can make a big difference."

The tip is echoed by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. Days ago he filed a lawsuit against a home improvement contractor for failing to deliver promised services. The lawsuit accuses Columbus-based 5 Star Remodeling LLC and owner Robert Turnquest of violating Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act.

In several consumer complaints, customers said they paid for home improvement work they never received and that the company did not provide refunds.

“In this case, we found that consumers paid thousands of dollars for work they never received,” Attorney General DeWine said. “We’re seeking recovery for affected consumers and protection for other consumers so they don’t experience the same problems.”  

Attorney General DeWine offered tips to avoid home improvement problems:
  • Research contractors carefully. Ask neighbors, friends, or family members for recommendations. Review complaints on file with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau. Check with the Ohio Secretary of State to confirm that the business is properly registered.
  • Get written estimates from several contractors before making a final decision. Be skeptical of an estimate that is much lower than others. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Read any documents a contractor gives you before signing them. Don’t rely on verbal claims. 
  • Be wary if you have to pay a large down payment, such as half of the total cost.
  • Make sure the written contract includes the start and end dates and an itemized list of all material costs, labor, and services.

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