Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Help Me Howard: General Contractor
They get hired to get things done, but, as you may know, contractors don't always live up to expectations. One family says their contractor left them with a shell of a home and took off, frustrations building, they turned to Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Shirley Adams: "And this was my daughter's room over here."
Hard to believe but this place was once a dream come true for the Adams' family.
Shirley Adams: "There's no place like home. This was our castle, and I miss it, I really miss it a lot."
And they have been missing it since November 2005 when a fire completely destroyed their house.
Shirley Adams: "We walked away, thank God, yes."
They walked away and then went to work to rebuild their home.
Shirley Adams: "We loved our family room."
They took the insurance money and paid off the mortgage, got a bank loan to rebuild the house, then hired a contractor in 2006.
Shirley Adams: "He accepted the pricing, everything was great."
But after taking $53,000 from them and, as you can see, doing very little work, late last year, the contractor walked away.
Shirley Adams: "Exactly, and we are very devastated about that. I have tried several times trying to reach him, sending him emails, calling him, certified letters."
Finally, Shirley got in touch with him, and he told her he couldn't finish the job at the price he agreed to.
Shirley Adams: "If he couldn't do the job, he shouldn't have signed the contract."
In the meantime, Shirley and her husband are paying interest on the construction loan and paying rent for another house to live in.
Shirley Adams: "And we just can't afford that."
Then there is the emotional toll on them.
Shirley Adams: "Physically, I am exhausted. Physically, emotionally, socially, all of this has taken a toll on me and our family."
They want their house to be completed, but, legally, they realize the contractor has them in a bind.
Shirley Adams: "We want to get rid of him, but we cannot get rid of him until he signs off."
In other words, they need the contractor to agree to quit, but it's a tricky move because, if they fire him, he could sue them, which is one reason they called Help me Howard.
Howard Finkelstein: "In order to avoid going to court, the Adams need to come to an agreement with the contractor that both terminates their contract and determines exactly how much of a refund he owes them. After that, they can hire a new contractor without fear of being sued."
When we spoke to the contractor, he admitted he had not done $53,000 worth of work, adding it's probably around $30,000 worth. He added, "Times have gotten difficult for me. I am not dishonest, and I can understand Shirley wanting to get out of the deal."
He then met with Shirley. They both signed this document, releasing him from the contract after he finished the items he has been paid to do.
Howard says, no matter who you hire, plumber, roofer, general contractor, pay as they go.
Howard Finkelstein: "A general rule of thumb, make the contract very specific. Pay for the work as you go. After the work is done, you may not be an expert in that field, so hire someone who is to explain it to you. It may cost you a few hundred dollars, but it could save you thousands."
With the agreement from the contractor, the Adams can hopefully end their nightmare and rebuild their dream home.
Mr. Adams: "We don't have a home, we don't have a home at all, and we thought a couple of years ago it would be done, but it's not. It's very frustrating."
Patrick Fraser: "If you have already hired a repairman or contractor, and they won't finish, odds are you will have to take them to court. That's why it's so important to do what Howard says, pay as the work is finished, then if they quit or you, have to fire them, you just pick up from there and finish the job and, hopefully, you won't lose any money. Also do your homework, hire someone who is highly recommended with a great reputation, maybe not the cheapest, but the most dependable.
Contracted a problem that's left you falling apart? Need someone to re-construct things? Contact us. We're not good with a hammer, but we can beat the law out of a book.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Help Me Howard Contact
Email: helpmehoward@wsvn (please include your contact number when emailing)