Seniors can be victims of unscrupulous maintenance contractors

debodun

Well-known member
This has really soured me on hiring contractors. I've had carpenters, painters, plumbers and outdoor projects done and very few turn out on budget, time, quality of materials I expected. Most seem to have their own agenda apart from mine and forget that because I am the one paying, I am the boss, but they just go ahead with what they want to do. It seems as soon as they start work, they start cutting corners. Some won't even put anything on paper an want to be paid in cash. I know I am not alone; often there are stories on the news about some contractor that cheated a senior. I have four strikes against me: 1) I am a woman. 2) I live alone. 3) I am a senior. 4) I don't have extensive knowledge about these things. I think contractors sense this and take advantage of it.
 

win231

Well-known member
Location
CA
I've experienced the same thing. There are a few suggestions that may be helpful.

Time: Attorneys have said there are 5 important words that belong on every contract involving such projects: "Time Is Of The Essence." Then, there should be a completion date included (maybe give or take a few days). The reason jobs are not completed on time is MONEY. When they get a bigger job, they'll put your job on the back burner & work on the bigger job because there's more profit in it. When you complain, they'll give you a bunch of lies - "We had people quit." "The shipment of supplies was delayed." "Our manager had a heart attack," (designed to make you feel sympathetic & believe their BS) etc. If those 5 words are on the contract, they know they'll be bound by them.

Payment: Unless they work out a payment schedule - something like "10% down, then dates for payments," never pay in full until every single part of the job is complete. Once they get all their money, you'll never see them again, REGARDLESS of how many times you've done business with them in the past. I have a great plumber, but after I paid for a job in full & there were a few things that needed completion, weeks went by without anything being done - until I edited my Yelp review, then I got an immediate call from the Co. owner & the work was completed THE NEXT DAY.
I recently had a tree that fell removed & some brush clearance that was needed. I had already done business with the tree company in the past, so I trusted them & paid in full for the tree removal & they said they would be back for the brush clearance. When I didn't hear from them, I phoned them & spoke to the owner. He said the brush clearance was not included. I changed my Yelp review & he immediately called & set up the brush clearance & his crew came out the next day & completed the job.

You also need a WRITTEN guarantee on any work. Remember, if it's not in writing, it doesn't exist. In court, when a litigant says, "Your Honor, he told me he would......" The judge will say, "What you're saying is not worth the paper it isn't written on." "You are limited to what's contained in the 4 corners of the contract."

ETA: You also have to sign a "Lien Release," so if your contractor doesn't pay his workers, you can't be held liable for it. It's usually included, but in case it isn't, ask for it. If your contractor says, "It's not necessary," say "bye."

In today's economy, they will cut corners & use cheaper materials - EVERYONE is doing it in EVERY field - even dentistry.
 

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debodun

Well-known member
Original Poster
For the last company I hired, I had a list of things written out. He didn't even look at it when he came to give me an estimate, nor did he put anything in writing. I only hired him because he didn't ask for any money up front and he said he's accept a personal check. When he came back to do the job, I still had the list I had written. When I presented it to him again, he scowled pushed my hand away like he didn't even want to see it. Everything was verbal and, to be fair, he did do some things to my satisfaction, some were not and I didn't realize it until I had paid and he had gone. When I contacted him and complained, he said he didn't have the equipment to do everything I wanted. I hope I didn't pay for it because there was no written contract.
 

debodun

Well-known member
Original Poster

jerry r. garner

redneck, but brainy
Okay, time for horror stories Dallas area, once a year or every two years bands of gypsies descend on area offering to repair driveways, roofs,
and/or remodel homes. Like the motorcycle clubs the contact man is dressed appropriately, drives a newer vehicle, has ID, paperwork for
'target' to sign...
81 y/o woman let a gypsy talk her into repairing roof...He drained her bank account, who knows how many household items he removed, sold...
She had a two car garage, he, and his crew, made it a supply depot for stolen goods, their equipment...
The police staked out home. gypsies never returned-which means they had a network system of 'others' which would inform them of
unusual activity involving their 'client.'
Her niece visited...She came to check on aunt about twice a year, usually did not enter house, pulled in driveway, knocked, took aunt out to
eat, without entering house. One day she did enter home...called us. The 81 y/o woman could not offer any information. Dementia had robbed her of virtually all cognitive ability. She could not ID gypsies, even the one she dealt with weekly...

#2 Same group, we think...Talked an elderly men into putting on new roof. He was on a walker, stayed in house.
The crew of gypsies arrived, got on roof with shovels, hammers-strange they brought no shingles.
(Shovels used to scape off old shingles) The old man set in his home, reviewing his contract... listening to the pounding on his roof. He decided: "It was too damn cheap". He got his pistol, hoppled out on his walker, hid behind a tree, watched the 'crew' apply aluminum paint to half of his roof.
He returned to house, waited... The 'foreman' showed up,,, sob story, 'Were half through, can you give me the $1,200.00 so I can buy shingles to finish the job. The old man stuck his pistol into the 'foreman's gut'...
"How about a couple hundred or did you want all five"? (single action pistol)
The 'foreman' ran, jumped into his pickup, abandoning, where the crew disappeared to???
The old man had difficult in his speech, looked like a senile old man-he wasn't!

Business card, Contract forms, sign on vehicles, all mean nothing. Do they have an actual business site, can you drive, or have another drive
to the business and talk to a living person?

The gypsies are not the actual problem, it is our own unscrupulous 'home repair' citizens that sign contracts and do enough work to
'get an advance.' Thieves, robbers all: CAUTION, CAUTION, CAUTION
 

Liberty

Well-known member
Location
Texas
Okay, time for horror stories Dallas area, once a year or every two years bands of gypsies descend on area offering to repair driveways, roofs,
and/or remodel homes. Like the motorcycle clubs the contact man is dressed appropriately, drives a newer vehicle, has ID, paperwork for
'target' to sign...
81 y/o woman let a gypsy talk her into repairing roof...He drained her bank account, who knows how many household items he removed, sold...
She had a two car garage, he, and his crew, made it a supply depot for stolen goods, their equipment...
The police staked out home. gypsies never returned-which means they had a network system of 'others' which would inform them of
unusual activity involving their 'client.'
Her niece visited...She came to check on aunt about twice a year, usually did not enter house, pulled in driveway, knocked, took aunt out to
eat, without entering house. One day she did enter home...called us. The 81 y/o woman could not offer any information. Dementia had robbed her of virtually all cognitive ability. She could not ID gypsies, even the one she dealt with weekly...

#2 Same group, we think...Talked an elderly men into putting on new roof. He was on a walker, stayed in house.
The crew of gypsies arrived, got on roof with shovels, hammers-strange they brought no shingles.
(Shovels used to scape off old shingles) The old man set in his home, reviewing his contract... listening to the pounding on his roof. He decided: "It was too damn cheap". He got his pistol, hoppled out on his walker, hid behind a tree, watched the 'crew' apply aluminum paint to half of his roof.
He returned to house, waited... The 'foreman' showed up,,, sob story, 'Were half through, can you give me the $1,200.00 so I can buy shingles to finish the job. The old man stuck his pistol into the 'foreman's gut'...
"How about a couple hundred or did you want all five"? (single action pistol)
The 'foreman' ran, jumped into his pickup, abandoning, where the crew disappeared to???
The old man had difficult in his speech, looked like a senile old man-he wasn't!

Business card, Contract forms, sign on vehicles, all mean nothing. Do they have an actual business site, can you drive, or have another drive
to the business and talk to a living person?

The gypsies are not the actual problem, it is our own unscrupulous 'home repair' citizens that sign contracts and do enough work to
'get an advance.' Thieves, robbers all: CAUTION, CAUTION, CAUTION
Reading this and thinking how unbelievably lucky we are. Have great guys to call for home fixes and another great company for "tree issues". Never ask for anything up front and always do a stellar job..maybe its those cookies I make for them?...lol.
Hope you guys find great repair folks. I've been hearing this from other areas, too. Whatever happened to integrity and just plain "I want to do a good job"?
 

Don M.

Well-known member
Location
central Missouri
I would not want to be a single woman, or a man with no "handyman" skills....especially a Senior, and in the aftermath of a severe storm, etc. There is no shortage of "contractors" looking to take advantage of people. Unless everything is spelled out in advance, and put in writing, a "customer" is just a "piggy bank" to many of these contractors. About the Only thing I've contracted was a new roof, a couple of years ago....and I relied heavily on local recommendations. I was steered toward a local Mennonite contractor who did a superb job, on time, and gave me a written estimate beforehand. He even knocked off $300 since while they were working, I picked up all the old shingles with my tractor, and dumped them in the dumpster they brought....saved them a bunch of hours/labor cleaning up the mess.
 

Kadee46

Well-known member
Location
South Australia
It happens in Australia as well, we get a group who drift in from other states with the sole purpose obtaining “work”
They case neighbourhoods looking for seniors who may live alone get on their roof without permission claiming they are from heath and safety checking if the home is sound
They then tell the homeowners the roof needs repairing / painting and insist on cash upfront
they offer to take the people to the bank and they either do a dodgy job or are never seen again.
Of course there is no paper work produced to prove they are licensed or have insurance
 
One important thing is if you are having work done that involves a lot of materials, make sure you receive a release from wherever the contractor is buying the materials that shows it has been paid for by the contractor OR purchase the materials yourself (the contractors don't like this option because they make money off the materials).

Otherwise, if the contractor hasn't paid for the materials (even though you've already paid HIM for them), you might find yourself with a lien on your property. The contractor, of course, has gone out of business or skipped town by then. It happened to a relative.
 

Keesha

Playful Scamp
Location
Canada
I would not want to be a single woman, or a man with no "handyman" skills....especially a Senior, and in the aftermath of a severe storm, etc. There is no shortage of "contractors" looking to take advantage of people. Unless everything is spelled out in advance, and put in writing, a "customer" is just a "piggy bank" to many of these contractors. About the Only thing I've contracted was a new roof, a couple of years ago....and I relied heavily on local recommendations. I was steered toward a local Mennonite contractor who did a superb job, on time, and gave me a written estimate beforehand. He even knocked off $300 since while they were working, I picked up all the old shingles with my tractor, and dumped them in the dumpster they brought....saved them a bunch of hours/labor cleaning up the mess.
That’s a really good point Don . One I wouldn’t have thought of. I think I’d be ok in this department if I had all my tools but ‘one’never knows.

It’s sad that people can take advantage of others so easily and that they even could. Some people have no conscious.
 
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Lc jones

Well-known member
Location
Florida
This has really soured me on hiring contractors. I've had carpenters, painters, plumbers and outdoor projects done and very few turn out on budget, time, quality of materials I expected. Most seem to have their own agenda apart from mine and forget that because I am the one paying, I am the boss, but they just go ahead with what they want to do. It seems as soon as they start work, they start cutting corners. Some won't even put anything on paper an want to be paid in cash. I know I am not alone; often there are stories on the news about some contractor that cheated a senior. I have four strikes against me: 1) I am a woman. 2) I live alone. 3) I am a senior. 4) I don't have extensive knowledge about these things. I think contractors sense this and take advantage of it.
I agree 100% even with my husband at home they are unscrupulous it is disgusting!
 

Linda

Well-known member
I don't know if you always take the lowest bidder Deb, but I wouldn't always do that either. Sometimes you need to pay more for a good contractor as they have more overhead then someone just working for cash under the table. And when that guy wouldn't look at your list you should have sent him down the road. Make sure the guy makes eye contact with you and also ask him who will be doing the work. Sometimes a clean cut articulate person will come out and look at the job, make promises and give you a good bid. Then when the work crew shows up you run in to hide the beer at the back of the refrigerator and lock up all your cash and jewels. Be careful who you let come in your house.
 

Liberty

Well-known member
Location
Texas
Very very glad we have "friends" and associates we've known for years. Anytime we need something, just give them a jingle. No quote needed usually , no fuss, fantastic work.

So sad so many have to put up with shoddy workmanship when something needs fixed.
Some good advice on this thread about what to do,though like Linda just posted.
 

StarSong

Well-known member
Location
Los Angeles
Before having work done we reach out to friends for personal recommendations about contractors they've used. Yelp can provide even more information. Same with our state contractor's licensing bureau to easily verify a contractor's status.

Like a lot of things hiring good contractors includes networking, researching, verifying, and having a certain amount of luck.
 

debodun

Well-known member
Original Poster
The year after my mom passed, I went looking for painting contractors to paint the front porch. I even went to online contractor rating sites like Home Advisor. I hired a guy that had many 5 star reviews. He was the in-between bidder of the three estimates I received ($2500, $4000 and $11000). He did come when he said, but I questioned the quality of paint he used. It was more like whitewash. Also, he didn't remove the old oil-based paint or prime the area painted; just slapped on the new paint over the old paint and dirt. When I asked, he claimed that the primer was already in the paint.

Of course over the next winter, most of the paint peeled off (some of it came off in sheets). I called him and said that my father had painted the porch in 1976 and the paint lasted 40 years. The said, "You can't get that type of paint anymore." After several months of haggling with him, I saw I wasn't going to get any satisfaction, so I started a small claims case. I won it easily when I presented the photos of the peeling paint and bare spots it left. However, in small claims, winning and collecting are two different things. Two years went by and he did not pay up on the case, so I put a lien on him. It was still another year when I got a call from him saying he wanted to settle. He probably went to by a vehicle or something and found out there was a lien against him. He did pay, but the limit in small claims is $3000, so I still ended up losing $1000.

The contractor that wanted $11000 had an elaborate plan. He said because the house was so old, he had to assume it had lead paint and to reove it required special precautions. He had to wrap the house in plastic before sandblasting and the neighbors on each side had to spend the day away from their homes (I'm sure that would endear me to them). He just priced himself out of a job.
 

debodun

Well-known member
Original Poster
I painted what I could reach by myself, but the trim really needs a touch-up.
 

Butterfly

Well-known member
My county isn't listed on the New York contractor licensing page.


So call the licensing board up and ask them about the contractor.

I ask contractors for their license number. If they get offended or don't want to give it, something is awry and you don't want to hire them.

For any work of any substance I have done, I insist on a written quote. A responsible contractor will give you a written quote specifying materials to be used, etc. If they are not willing to give you one, don't hire them. NEVER pay for work in advance. I never pay in cash either (unless it's a small job like pulling weeds or something like that). I want to be able to prove, if I ever have to, that I did pay them for certain work. I insist on a receipt, too. I never pay in full until the work is satisfactory.
 

StarSong

Well-known member
Location
Los Angeles
So call the licensing board up and ask them about the contractor.

I ask contractors for their license number. If they get offended or don't want to give it, something is awry and you don't want to hire them.

For any work of any substance I have done, I insist on a written quote. A responsible contractor will give you a written quote specifying materials to be used, etc. If they are not willing to give you one, don't hire them. NEVER pay for work in advance. I never pay in cash either (unless it's a small job like pulling weeds or something like that). I want to be able to prove, if I ever have to, that I did pay them for certain work. I insist on a receipt, too. I never pay in full until the work is satisfactory.
Great advice.

Also make sure that expectations are reasonable; even the best contractors can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Be very clear about the scope of the work and put it in writing. Realize in advance that contractors are in business to make money - working isn't their hobby, it's how they earn enough profit to put food on their tables and pay their bills.
 


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