Do Your Homework on Contractors, Experts Say

By: Louise Harris


Contributors of the Consumer Quarterback Show are cautioning homeowners to be careful when buying roofing, screened enclosures and general construction. Chuck Peterson of Suncoast Roofing, Fred Muth of Tampa Screens and Aluminum, and Jason Avery of Avery Construction appeared on the show last week to discuss construction issues happening in the area today.

When you are getting ready to hire a contractor, you have to do your homework. Local law enforcement officers have arrested a number of contractors who were not legitimate. People are paying for roof work that is never completed, Peterson says. Many of the state requirements are online, so it’s easy to find out about contractors, he says. Look for licenses. Talk to the Better Business Bureau or other organizations. Read reviews. Find out about the company before you pay any money, he says.

Know that your work won’t be completed immediately, according to Muth. The permit process, especially in Pasco County, is burdensome and taking a long time, even for hurricane damage work. Homeowners associations also are adding another layer of bureaucracy that is hindering rebuilding. If companies are promising less than three months, they probably aren’t going to do a good job. Besides permitting, contractors are facing a lack of materials and a labor shortage.

“We don’t want to hire just anyone. We have to be able to trust them to do the quality of work our reputation demands,” Muth says.

Avery Construction says its down 500 workers to do the remodeling jobs it has in the pipeline. Contractors need talented, skilled and competent labor force to do the work people want. Price of materials is another problem contractors are facing right now. So many materials are 8 percent to 10 percent higher in the last few months. And, many of the manufacturers are just getting back up to speed. All these factors are delaying projects.

“Be patient. If you can put off a project, you should do that,” Muth recommends. Some of his customers are taking him up on that choice.

This is a time when illegitimate contractors are preying on unsuspecting people. Don’t let yourself be fooled, the experts say. Be patient, do your homework and talk to highly reputable companies for your construction jobs.

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