Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Help Me Howard: Roof not finished
The tough times are everywhere and have hit everyone. From creditors to consumers and even to contractors. But what happens if a contractor you hired can't or won't finish the job they're contracted to do? Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser tries to construct a solution for one such family.
WSVN -- Evelyne Domond: "I love them dearly. I call them my precious five."
Evelyne and Martin have five children.
Evelyne Domond: "Most of the time they are pretty good together. They are wonderful."
Five loving kids under one roof, one leaky roof.
Martin Domond: "We could see the leaks when it rains and the spots on the ceiling and things like that."
They knew the roof had to be replaced, so they started researching different companies.
Martin Domond: "They worked on my friend's roof, you know, and they were highly recommended."
In April of this year, they agreed to pay the company $36,000 for a new tile roof. Twelve thousand dollars up front, $12,000 after the first inspection and $12,000 after it was finished and passed the final inspection. Then the work began.
Martin Domond: "All they did was put up the black paper. That's all they did. So far they have $24,000. That's all we have."
And each week, heck, each day, Martin would try to get them to finish up.
Martin Domond: "We've made numerous calls, numerous calls. No one has ever shown up."
No tiles, no work and no sign of the roofers for months. Then they got in touch with Martin.
Martin Domond: "Someone who claims to be one of the managers of the company, called me and asked me for the other $12,000 that was supposed to be paid after the job was completed."
It's clear the bad economy has put many contractors out of business. Realizing that, Martin smartly refused to give them the last payment till they finished the job, and they said, "We can't afford to finish the job without the last payment."
Martin Domond: "Therefore, in order to finish the job, they will need the balance, which is $12,000 to buy the material to complete the job, and I said 'No, I'm not giving one more dime, until the job is completed.'"
Then, they refused to finish the work, leaving Martin feeling helpless and hopeless.
Martin Domond: "There is very little you can do as an individual. What can you do?"
But what do you do when a roofer, a contractor, a repairman won't finish the job, Howard?
Howard Finkelstein: "First send them a certified letter giving them a deadline to complete the job, and let them know if they don't, you will hire another company to finish the job. Also let them know if it costs you any more, they will be responsible. Of course, with so many companies going out of business, many customers are going to be stuck."
When we got in touch with the company, they told us their employee should not have asked for the final payment before the work was done.
They then promised us the job would be finished in two weeks. That was not true. Months passed, and a former employee said the company was having financial problems.
Then finally, they got their hands on the tiles for the Domond's roof.
Howard says before they cheer, they need to be careful.
Howard Finkelstein: "The supplies delivered to your house may not always be paid for, so before you hand over the final payment make sure you get a release of lien, so the tile company can't come after you for payment. Make sure you do that to protect yourself."
Martin now has his tiles, and if they aren't installed soon, he will send the roofer a letter demanding they finish the job. If not, Martin will hire someone else to do it, and since he paid as he went, he has $12,000 to pay the new roofer.
Martin Domond: "I'm very happy things are coming along. It took a while, but nevertheless, it is a positive outcome."
So how can you protect yourself when so many companies are having problems? Be careful, very careful. Look for companies that have been in business for a long time, that have been through the tough times before.
There are plenty of good business people out there, just find them.
Feel like you've been roughed up and roofed over? Let us construct a solution. We aren't handy with tiles or tools, but we are free, and in tough times, free is fun.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org (Please include your contact phone number when emailing)