Tuesday

Is Your Home Improvement Contractor Bonded?


Many cities require local home improvement companies to be bonded so that homeowners are protected. Now comes the surprise. Some of those cities don't bother to even ask about it anymore. The result? Homeowners can lose tens of thousands of dollars because city officials just don't bother to enforce the law.

Home improvement companies are often very thinly funded and have no assets behind them other than the pickup truck the guy arrives in when he shows up at your home. Many are not even trained to do the work you are paying them for. That can lead to contractors who take the money and leave the homeowner stuck, often with a job not finished or not done right or not even started.

Think it can't happen to you? The problem is so common that there's even a Tv show about it, "Holmes on Homes" on the HGTV cable channel.

You can get some great advice on that show, but what about the people who already get paid to protect you? I'm talking about the city officials who get paid with your tax dollars. The same ones who are supposed to enforce the home improvement company licensing and bonding requirements that many cities have.

Some of those same city officials have the power to shut down home improvement operators because they don't comply with the mandatory requirement that they be bonded if they are going to do home improvement work in your town.

You should care because a bond is the only thing that may protect you from the very fly-by-night shady operators that often are the basis for Holmes on Homes, where they warn that "the world is full of shady contractors who take shortcuts, use shoddy building practices or employ a band-aid approach to repair work, often leaving homeowners in dangerous situations or out a ton of money."

Well, it turns out that some cities have decided to skip that part of the law that says home improvement operators have to be bonded. They just let them run free and easy. Okay, let's name names.

The City of Dayton stopped requiring home improvement bonds three years ago. The law didn't change. It still says they have to be bonded, so far as we can tell. But apparently the city doesn't even bother to check anymore. They stopped enforcing the law 3 years ago.

That leaves Dayton consumers an easy mark for con artists and ripoffs. For some easy tips on how to protect yourself, head on over to Holmes on Homes, http://www.hgtv.com/.

We don't usually make recommendations like this but, frankly, right now he may be better protection against rip off home improvement contractors that your local city officials.