How To Handle A Project Gone Wrong- What to do when a Pro doesn't perform.
Baltimore, MD: At EFynch, we are doing out best to give all homeowners and homebuyers the tools to properly locate, and research the contractors they want to hire*. Too many other sources online only give you the "advertised choice", and asking for a recommendation on neighborhood websites does not guarantee you are getting non-biased results (a growing problem).
However, even with the toughest verification procedures, you can find online, there is still the chance that a hired Pro or Handyman may not meet your expectations. Problems happen, humans are humans, and sometimes things just don't "click".
So, here is our advice when something goes wrong:
Step 1: Document and mention the issue to the contractor/ handyman as soon as possible. In addition to carpentry skills, a home improvement project is equal parts logistics and identifying any issue that must be remedied as early as possible will help.
----- SIDE NOTE -----
*If handled properly, clearly, and calmly, it is my experience that 99%+ of the cases are resolved at this stage. It is important to be calm, have things documented in writing, check the work against your contract, and clearly state your concern. Then listen, and ask for a resolution. Always keep a positive attitude and don't burn a bridge- we may be able to help (see step 2). Most Contractors would rather hear and fix the item than have you leave unhappy.
Step 2: Contact EFynch to initiate the Escrow Protection. Hopefully you used our Escrow System because 100% of your funds are held under your control and safe until you specifically request they be released (it also does not cost your a single penny to use). EFynch can refund all or a portion of the funds and this entire process is built to entice a contractor to quickly resolve any problem. He sees the money in escrow and knows that once you (the homeowner/ homebuyer) is happy, he gets his money or it may be refunded back to you.
At your request, we can also review the case and offer guidance or support. But remember, we are not working on behalf of either yourself or the contractor, we just want to informally help resolve the problems.
Step 3: If discussions have not worked and we refunded your money, EFynch can help search for a replacement handyman or contractor to complete the work. Contact EFynch directly and we can help get this setup in our system.
Step 4: If you experienced damages and the financial damages exceed the refund, below are the various avenues you can follow:
Maryland Guarantee Fund (licensed contractors only): An account that is part of the Contractor’s License Requirements, this is a Fund that is controlled by the Maryland Home Improvement Commission. If a Licensed Contractor has done poor work or damaged your property, you may seek compensation up to $25,000. You can verify a Maryland Contractor License here, or get more information on the Guarantee Fund by clicking here.
Contractor Insurance: Often misunderstood, a contractor's insurance policy covers actual damage but does not cover poor workmanship (see Guarantee Fund for this). If a contractor backs his truck into you home- insurance covers it, if a contractor fails to follow code an upgrades need to be made- not covered. Before hiring any contractor- you should obtain current information on their insurance.
Contractor Bonding: Even more misunderstood, 99% of residential contractors and handymen DO NOT carry Bonding (it is expensive and even when they have it, often does not cover work unless their bond specificaly references your contract). Bonding is typicaly reserved for commercial projects. If the contractor has "bonding, this is a 3rd party which guarantees the contract and if the contractor fails to perform, will compensate you to remedy the situation.
Civil Court: This is the process we hope you never have to take. Guidelines vary from state to state and even between counties. We suggest you seek legal counseling prior to taking this action and strongly recommend you contact the Maryland Home Improvement Commission prior to taking this step. Often their actions can work quicker and with less stress than "going to court".
Keep us updated of any problems and never hesitate to reach out for help. All of us here at EFynch love Home Improvement and working on our own homes just as much as we like offering help, and want you to be happy- that is why we call ourselves a community and not just another website or app:)
Disclaimer: This blog post IS NOT meant to be Legal or Construction Advice. It is meant for conversation purposed only. Any information in this blog is subject to our Terms and Conditions and does not replace any portion of those. *We mention license verification in the first paragraph, this is part of The Fynchnest, a new program launching in November 2017 to help homebuyers obtain and verify information when working with Long & Foster Real Estate. This system is open in limited capacity to ALL EFynch members however is subject to various terms and conditions which may change from time to time, we ask you to reach out to us if you have questions or plan on using this program.