Spring is right around the corner, and I think we will all be glad to see it. We’ve had more than our share of snow, ice, and cold weather this winter and everyone (with the possible exception of skiers) has had enough. As we look forward to spring, many people think about home repairs or renovations that they need or want. Snow building up on the eaves of your house can result in ice dams which can lead to leaks and water damage. Freezing and thawing can lead to cracks in sidewalks, driveways, and even foundations. You may want to improve access to your home, or maybe you just want to update your kitchen or bath. Or maybe you have an aging parent who lives in another state who needs some work done. The question is, “How do you know who you can trust to do a good job and treat you fairly and professionally?”
It seems like hardly a week goes by that you don’t hear about some new scam to try to defraud or cheat someone, and seniors are a common target. After working hard all your life to put something back “for a rainy day” the last thing you want is to be taken advantage of. So how do you find a good, honest professional to work on your home or provide other services you need? Probably the best way to check someone out is through word of mouth. Ask around. Talk to other people in the community who have gotten work done and ask them about their experiences. People will generally tell you if they have had a good experience working with a contractor, and they will almost always tell you if they have had a bad experience. Ask about what kind of work the contractor did, how attentive they were to details, how careful they were, and how long it took to complete the work. Most remodeling projects will cause some disruption to your life, but a good contractor will do everything possible to mitigate these disruptions.
There are also a lot of websites that are helpful in finding contractors as well as other services that seniors use. Senior Navigator (www.seniornavigator.com) provides lists of resources to help seniors with many aspects of their lives, including finding contractors or other providers. Gilbert Guide (www.gilbertguide.com) and Caring.com (www.caring.com) are companion site that both focus on helping caregivers find resources to help aging seniors live the fullest and longest lives possible. All of the contractors in their database are Certified Aging in Place Specialists, a designation offered by the National Association of Home Builders that requires specialized training in meeting the needs of those who wish to remain in their own homes as they age. It also requires compliance with a Code of Ethics. The Senior List (www.theseniorlist.com) contains listings of services of interest to seniors and lets clients rate their experiences with these providers.
Finally, before you agree to have any work done on your home, take the time to get to know the contractor. Talk with them and people they have worked for. Look at some of the other projects they have done. Talk to several different contractors and compare them. Make sure you feel comfortable with them, they are licensed and insured, and get everything in writing.
I am always available to look at your building or remodeling projects, or to answer any questions you may have about your home or any other housing matters. Just call me at (540) 556-0650 or email me at email@example.com. Thank you for reading Housing Matters and have a great spring!