Recently, HomeStars has published blog posts highlighting news reports on scandalous roofers, contractors and other home improvements businesses.

In “Helping Homeowners is our Business” Alicia in our Ottawa office discusses the numerous TV and radio news reports regarding shady contractors and landscapers in the area. It’s not just about the work that wasn’t completed or the money that was essentially stolen but also the possible dangers and hazards of the unfinished work.

Nancy wrote about Friday’s CBC Marketplace’s story, Hitting the Roof. In this feature, Erica Johnson enlists Mike Holmes help to identify dishonest roofers in Ontario.

We have even seen a flood of angry customers of a Thornhill snow removal company visit our forum to build support for possible legal action.

What does this all mean?

Home improvement is a very personal and emotional decision. It doesn’t matter if it’s landscaping, plumbing, or a new addition, a homeowner is emotionally and financially invested in making these changes fixes or upgrades. Dishonest businesses, business owners and workers know this and at every chance will take advantage.

Stories of dishonesty and theft are increasing so homeowners need to be proactive. Homeowners need to rely on the three R’s in this order: reviews, ratings, and references.

Reviews — HomeStars provides reviews of home improvement companies across North America. We are continuing to grow but only with your help. HomeStars relies on consumers and home owners to share their experiences: good, bad and ugly. Your honest review of your experiences working with a company and the work they have done for you can only help others. This is the first line of defense against dishonest home improvement business. An honest review of their service, or lack thereof, will help to prevent others from ever entertaining the idea of hiring them.

Ratings — Can you imagine the kind of world it would be if every company you worked with could honestly rate a “10”? Ratings are considered subjective or personal based on your criteria of excellence. Don’t be afraid to ask your contractor what they feel constitutes excellent service not just as a company but if they were having the same work done in their home. Provide a rating to your review that is a true reflection of your experience and be open to explaining it in your review.

References — Employers ask for references of potential future employees. Since you are hiring a contractor to work on your home and to whom you will pay money for their service, you have every right to ask for references. I completely agree with Mike Holmes that references should be supplied in the initial meeting. Ask to speak with their last customer. Any business would be thrilled to share a reference from a satisfied customer. If the business balks, move on.

Plan ahead. We don’t want a toilet to leak or to have to replace a roof but many home improvement jobs are inevitable. Create a list of at least two businesses in multiple categories that you have vetted in advance. Research them before you need them. When the time comes you can make an informed decision instead of one based on meeting a critical need.

The days of choosing a service provider blindly are gone. Consumers have choices in who they choose to work for them and how they share information about these companies. Take advantage of the tools available to you. Don’t be ripped off.

Posted by Team HomeStars

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