You will be dismayed to discover some very distressing facts when you have home improvements done or purchase a new home. For instance: Almost all manufacturer warranties don't cover poor-workmanship; General Liability Insurance rarely covers poor-workmanship; many builders actually have Warranty Clauses like 'Seller makes NO warranty.'
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This is also a story about an atrocious roof installed by Eagle Construction, a four-time winner of Democrat and Chronicle's Rochester's Choice Award. Did the Better Business Bureau, Better Contractor's Bureau, NARI - National Association of the Remodeling Industry, GAF Materials Corporation, or the D&C newspaper do anything to help the consumer? Amy wants to share what she has learned to help other consumers not make the same mistakes she made.
You will be dismayed to discover some very distressing facts when you have home-improvements done or purchase a new home.
Having your home re-roofed in NYS is a set up for disaster. (Click on hyperlinks for detailed discussions)
One's home is typically their largest lifetime investment; the roof is the primary protection for that investment. Yet, defective roofing is running rampant. I say this because a great many defects are so easy to hide under those shingles. See Appalling Roof.
I know my roof is not the only one like this. Eagle Construction stated to me that they have used this sub-contractor before, and one of the workers told me that he's been roofing for seven winters.
Complaints of substandard homebuilder / home-improvement workmanship are at epidemic proportions.
Actress, Sandra Bullock, hired the supposedly best architect in Texas to build her home. After construction was done, about $4 million more was needed to fix design defects. Isn't there any pride in one's craft anymore? I question if it wouldn't it be better to be able to say, "I built Sandra Bullock's mansion, and I'm proud of it." instead of, "Sandra Bullock is suing me for doing a crappy job, building her house." I just don't get it.
Serious problems, for instance code violations, missing critical materials, improper site preparation and grading, moisture problems and leaks that can lead to mold / rot, and cracked foundations, can be quickly hidden under concrete, siding, or shingles. All of these defects may be undetectable to even professional home inspectors until the damage shows up, often months or even years after the buyer has moved in, and the builder has moved on.
Contractors may walk off the job before finishing the project.
This is one of the most common complaints against homebuilders. Just about all contractors require a deposit before starting a job; but for your protection, please pay it with your credit card. Some contractors, however, request a seemingly high-percentage down, supposedly for materials, etc. RED FLAG ON THE PLAY! A sizable down payment should scream three things to you.
The NAHB Research Center is a subsidiary of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). In trying to resolve concerns with general liability insurance, it has identified and exposed many problems that exist within the homebuilding, home-improvement, and construction industry. Such as:
Some believe that a uniform national guide for better construction practices needs to be developed and implemented. A complete and widely accepted set of construction performance standards would focus on quality and professionalism. Widespread usage of such standards should yield the consistent raising of superior structures. This could help to lower liability insurance premiums, and also improve the perception of the building industry itself.
NAHB Research Center's report cites that there is widespread use of relatively unskilled labor in new home construction. Regrettably, there aren't many training programs or other opportunities for workers to learn proper building techniques. One possible avenue for training has fundamentally dried-up. Because many Builders and General Contractors don't maintain their own workforce, they have taken to hiring trade contractors instead. Builders and GC's don't provide training to these contractors, as they did to apprentices in the past, because then the training would benefit other builders, who did not fund the training. Also, instead of choosing trade contractors based on the quality of their work, builders sometimes base their choice on whether the trade contractors have insurance or how much they charge. How do we help these trade contractors to deliver a quality product to the builder?
My thought is, now that NAHB knows of the shortcomings in their industry, I hope that they redirect their energies and money to improve the quality of the product in their industry instead of trying to legally outmaneuver homebuyers. Perhaps NAHB could start building trade schools throughout the US. After all, they say that they want to improve their industry's image. Having only skilled, certified workers doing only quality work is one certain way to accomplish that.
Isn't it time that customers of the construction industries "demand trained, skilled and supervised labor in the home building industry along with licensing, bonding, code enforcement, and law enforcement, for residential builders in all states"? I believe that this is the ONLY WAY to ensure that homebuyers will receive the economy-improving, disaster-resistant homes that measure up to the quality that buyers paid for.
Isn't it time that citizens "demand emotional distress awards and / or punitive damages for homeowners that have had to suffer greatly"? Such awards would help a financially devastated family make the needed repairs, and pay all the other costs involved with their legal battle for justice. These awards would also act as a warning to builders who continually and blatantly ignore codes and laws.
As I said on the home page, I was mistaken to think that Eagle Construction's being the winner of the Democrat & Chronicle's Rochester Choice Awards meant something. That factor was very much a part of my decision to hire this company.
The awards will be announced again in November 2011; I advise people to ignore these "awards" as they are not legitimate awards. Let me explain.
The "Rochester's Choice Awards" promotion entices people to fill out a "ballot" by offering a chance to win $1,000. However the "ballot" requires that a minimum of fifteen categories must be completed in order for the "ballot" to be valid. How many people have had the chance to deal with an array of companies, in 15 different categories? I say, not many!
Democrat and Chronicle's disclaimer reads: "The Rochester's Choice Awards are a promotion of the Advertising Department at the Democrat and Chronicle. Advertisers in this section receive 100 newspapers to distribute to their customers and encourage them to vote for their business. Only ballots with a minimum 15 categories filled will be counted. Obvious and suspect attempts at ballot stuffing will be disqualified. Rochester's Choice represents the preferred business by popular vote in each category; results are unscientific and meant for entertainment purposes only. Votes received for the Rochester's Choice Awards will hand-tabulated. We are not responsible for misplaced, miscounted, illegible or uncountable ballots. Tied categories will share the distinction as Rochester's Choice for that category. All decisions are final."
So, voters are baited with $1,000, and presented with restrictions to make a "ballot" valid. I suspect that most people will start filling out their choices, then discover that they haven't dealt with that many categories, so they will flip through the pages of this flyer full of advertisers just to find a name (any name will do). In other words – I conclude, the deck is stacked; the fix is in; advertisers in this flyer containing the "ballot form" are bound to win this meaningless 'Award' "meant for entertainment purposes only."
Then these companies use these awards in their advertising as if they are the genuine "favorite" companies of the Rochester public. I say that this is a blatant attempt to mislead prospective customers. And Democrat & Chronicle is helping this scourge to flourish, by endorsing these companies with false 'awards'. D&C has a disclaimer to protect themselves; but they know how companies are using these 'awards', misrepresenting themselves as if they had received a legitimate award. D&C doesn't require these companies to display any "entertainment only" disclaimer in their advertising! Now it's quite possible that these companies were also given the wrong impression as to the validity of these 'awards'. However, I hope that all the honorable companies refuse to participate in this "entertainment" now that the true significance of this program is revealed. In fact, I suggest that D&C cancels the whole Choice promotion immediately because of its inherent impropriety.
Update: Eagle Construction (four-time winner of these 'awards') has shut its doors, leaving customers who gave them tens of thousands of dollars in deposits wondering where their money went. In August 2007, the Attorney General's Office filed a lawsuit against Eagle Construction Company and its owner, on behalf of 35 customers, and representing more than $287,709.00 in consumer losses. Of course, D&C stated in their response to my complaint to the Attorney General's office regarding these "awards" that, "We do not endorse any of the entrants, their products or their services." Do you believe that? Somehow, I think that I was not the only customer who believed that D&C was endorsing Eagle Construction by bestowing them with a ROCHESTER CHOICE AWARD.
Maybe D&C would appreciate hearing how the public really feels about these awards. Complaints: 585-232-5550
If you believe you have been harmed because Democrat & Chronicle endorsed some company or other with one of these "fake awards", you are welcome to file a complaint with the NY Attorney General. I did! In many cases, there is a "window of opportunity" for consumers to fill out complaint forms with the Attorney General's office to become eligible for restitution.
You should mail your complaint to the Attorney General's Rochester regional office.
Rochester Regional Office
144 Exchange Blvd., 2nd Floor
Rochester, NY 14614-2176
Lastly, there are "deceptive practice" laws to protect people. I don't know how; but if anyone who has been hurt by one of these "Choice awards winners" would like to pursue the idea of a class-action suit against D&C, please send me an e-mail.