Contractors: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
We have always said, choosing the right contractor is 75% of the job of any homeowner and researching a contractor’s history should be priority number one. Unfortunately, the joy of finding that right guy, girl or company for the job may NOT be as apparent to someone who has never been let down, lied to, or ripped off by some shady crook with a pencil and a measuring tape. So we’d like to introduce you to some tragic characters we recently found on the internet:
Steven Jay Sizemore, 31, is going to spend a little time behind bars for defrauding 21 homeowners in Riverton, Utah. Utilizing a not so elaborate scheme to cheat unsuspecting individuals of thousands of dollars, Steve was collecting pre-payment on orders for kitchen cabinets that were never, ever delivered. Now to the issue of researching contractor’s background, prosecutors also found out that while out on bail following his June 2011, Mr. Sizemore was still collecting payment from at least 7 of the 21 victims. Sitting in the penalty box last week, the judge sentenced him up to 15 years in prison.
Contractor Jeff Edwards of Astoria, Oregon is going to spend 13 months in jail for three counts of identity theft. Jeff was offering house painting and pressure cleaning services using the Oregon Construction Contractors Board’s license numbers of other businesses, or creating false license numbers, so it would appear as if he was appropriately licensed and bonded with the state of Oregon.
Now as a homeowner, you may be inclined to bring an unlicensed Jeff Edwards of Astoria to maybe save a few bucks on your home improvement or remodeling project. But consider the risk. In June, the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) in Florida ran a two day sting to put unlicensed contractors behind bars, putting 40 offenders in prison. BSO said 14 similar operations in the last three years have netted 240 arrests. Of those 240 with about 60 percent, or about 140 of those contractors apprehended were convicted felons. The crimes ranged from burglaries to homicides.
Bottom line is when hiring people to work on a home, it’s important to research the background of the person or company providing the work. Always ask for license numbers, and don’t be afraid to ask for professional references and call them to see how things went with this particular individual. The internet also provides a good way to research a home improvement professional through online reviews. Remember, experience is the greatest teacher, and its always better to learn from someone else’s than your own.