Avoid these mistakes with home projects
Get it in writing!
Salem – As consumers gear up for the home improvement
season, the Construction Contractors Board (CCB) warns homeowners and
contractors that the single-best way to avoid problems is to commit project details
“The biggest problems we see every construction season are
lack of communication and differing expectations between homeowners and
contractors,” CCB Acting Administrator Stan Jessup said.
Putting project details in writing – down to product
names/numbers or the specific color/brand of paint – are crucial to avoiding
misunderstandings and dashed expectations.
“If you’re changing out a door, you should get it in
writing,” Jessup said.
CCB mediates disputes
The CCB helps mediate disputes between homeowners and licensed
contractors. Its mediators say the top recurring problems are:
- Lack of a well-drafted contract on projects of any size.
Oregon law requires contractors to give clients a written contract on projects
that exceed $2,000 in value.
- Contractors that fail to call or show up for appointments on
time. This frustrates consumers and escalates easily resolvable matters to
- Poorly written or nonexistent change orders.
A contract should include a project start and completion
date, a payment schedule, and a scope of work (what’s included and not included
in the project). Understand “allowances.” If your contract gives you an
allowance of $2,000 for kitchen appliances but the appliances you want cost
$4,000, make sure your budget can handle the additional $2,000.
Document change. For example, let’s say you hire someone to
replace living room windows by next week. While doing so, the contractor finds
dry rot, mold and electrical problems. That calls for more work, an increase in
price, and a new completion date. Both parties should sign off on the new
Your contractor is a professional and should guide you
through the process.
“The vast majority of
contractors work hard to please their customers and CCB statistics show that
most customers are satisfied with the work,” Jessup said.
As always, the CCB says the best way to find a contractor is
word of mouth from people you know and trust or people in the construction
industry, such as supply stores.
Once you have a contractor in mind, verify
that their CCB license number is active. Contractors must include their CCB
license number on any advertising. To check the license, visit www.oregon.gov/ccb. Enter a license number
or name in the orange “Search” feature.
Licensed contractors carry bonds and insurance and can be
held accountable if something goes wrong. Only licensed contractors can get
required building permits.