In 2009, my husband and I set out to purchase our first home. We were very excited being new parents to our little girl. We want our little girl to have a backyard and to be in a good school system and so after countless house tours, we settled on a fixer-upper. We started our house hunting process with open minds and naive and trusting hearts. We were fresh meat for vulturous contractors. After we purchased our house, we hired a wonderful architect and with architectural plans in hand, we started our search for a contractor. We decided to hire a contractor from ServiceMagic which is now HomeAdvisor. After all, they claimed to have a thorough screening process and only list the most trusting and reliable contractors – I was fooled. After many interviews, we found someone we thought we could trust – WRONG! The thing to know about contractors is that most of them are genuinely unscrupulous and professional liars. There are a few good and honest ones but those are very hard to find. The long and short of my story is, the contractor we hired stole our deposit, did no work on our house then in turn sued us for breach of contract after we found out he was a fraud and wanted to terminate his contract. Apparently, this was his pattern of conduct. What many contractors do is they take your deposit or payment, then demand more and more often doing little to no work or using “change orders” as an excuse and when you refuse to give in to their demands, they walk away leaving you empty handed and with an unfinished house. Many homeowners don’t go after the contractors because they are already out of money and to hire an attorney will cost even more. The litigation process can be long and costly so most just don’t bother and as a result, many unscrupulous contractor get away with robbery.
But my story has sort of a happy ending. Though I was completely naive when I started my process, I learned quickly. We worked hard to save for our home and I wasn’t going to let some stranger snatch our dream and hard earnings away. We fought back and WON! We won our litigation in court and though we didn’t’ get our money back because the contractor filed for bankruptcy knowing he will lose, we got his contractor’s license revoked collectively with other homeowners.
In my next blog, I will share tips that I’ve learned the hard way on how you can protect yourself from unscrupulous contractors. What’s your contractor horror story?