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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN  /Hard Learned Lessons /  Editorial List

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Hard Learned Lessons

Today we commemorate the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the destruction it brought upon so many of our friends and family members. Today also marks the start of the high point of another potentially active hurricane season. Meanwhile, we watch as parts of our midlands dig themselves out after massive flooding. The one thing that many of us will have in common after such disasters is the rebuilding process. Maybe that is why I've been having so many conversations with caregivers who find themselves in the position of having to rebuild their lives and homes - sometimes from the ground up. In many cases, such rebuilding happens in a smooth and efficient manner, unfortunately for others they can find themselves in: Contractor Hell.

Allow me to impart some hopefully helpful hints for those of you with home repair woes:

  1. Check ‘em out! Call the Better Business Bureau and our state to check on any complaints against their license. Talk to previous clients.

  2. Make sure they have a license. Many times, even if there is a license associated with the business, you never deal directly with the license holder. Make sure that the person is aware you will refer them to the proper authorities, if necessary.

  3. Bid! Bid! Bid! Prices, as well as qualifications, will vary. GREATLY!

  4. Insist on a time and payment schedule, with penalties for missed scheduled commitments and rewards for beating the schedule with competent work.

  5. Do not give anyone cash. Never. Not for any reason. Get receipts and when the work is done-get warrantees.

  6. Do not pay in advance. If you are asked to pay too much before the work is done –worry.

  7. Watch the paperwork. Retotal figures. Ask questions. Demand proof. Demand receipts. It is your money, after all.

  8. Make sure you get “Release of Liens” from all subcontractors. If you do not-and the contractor fails to pay them-you are liable.

  9. “If in doubt, don’t lay it out!”. Get good advice from your attorney if you feel that someone may be taking advantage of you.

  10. Trust yourself. Don’t settle for answers that don’t ring true.
    Now that you’ve passed Contractor 101, may you never have to take the final exam



Gary Barg

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