Homeowner Beware

A man writes a check for a down payment on what he believes will soon be his new deck, only to continue looking out the patio door at some dirt and the holes that had been dug for footings that never got poured. Another family has contracted with a "company" to paint the exterior of their home, but 3 weeks later the job is only half finished and the painters seem to work on no certain schedule. And then there is the widow lady that is convinced by someone that if she doesn't do the work to her home soon the damage to her house will be irreparable. These stories are all too familiar to those of us who live in the metropolitan area, and are played out every day on the pages of our newspapers and on programs such as Call For Action and Seven On Your Side.

Why is our area being converged upon and plagued with home improvement scams brought on us by people whose only concern is a dollar, and by those who have no concept of what honesty and integrity is? Why is it that the Northern Virginia area, in particular, seems to be a haven for this kind of activity? What can legitimate contractors do to set themselves apart from these types of operations, and what can the homeowner do to protect themselves?

The Northern Virginia and Washington, DC areas are particularly susceptible for 3 reasons:

  1. While there are laws on the books regarding the licensing of all who operate a business in Virginia, very little enforcement takes place, primarily because of the large number of those operating in our area.
  2. The chances are that a person will never be caught operating without a license in Northern Virginia.
  3. For those who do get a business license, in most home improvement fields there is absolutely no testing required to show training or competence in the field in which that business is going to operate.
  4. Some homeowners who are taken advantage of usually feel embarrassed by what has happened and may never report the contractor to the appropriate authorities. So with no repercussions at all and no fear of being caught at what they are doing, a person can just move to the next neighborhood and continue taking advantage of homeowners. Legitimate contractors are often at a disadvantage from the time their phone rings from a homeowner who is seeking to have some work done. A legitimate contractor realizes that he is bidding many times against people who can do work sometimes substantially cheaper than he can, because of the way some of the "competition" are running their operation. He also knows that for those homeowners who have been burned in the past, or know of someone who has, that he may be viewed with suspicion and distrust, and to those that have been fortunate enough to have not been treated wrongly before, he may seem overpriced compared to what someone else has bid. Therefore, the only defense the legitimate contractor has is his reputation for honesty, and the quality of the work which many times he will not even get a chance to demonstrate. Many times a legitimate contractor who wants to succeed must spend more time and money to compete with someone who is not playing by the same rules, and in the end though it appears on the surface that the legitimate contractor makes more profit because his bid may be a few dollars higher, he is actually more often than not making a much smaller profit.
  5. Another problem facing the legitimate contractor is that in some areas of Fairfax County in particular, the opportunist has created a different scenario. I remember giving an estimate to a wealthy and affluent family in an area that was surrounded by million dollar homes in all directions. After presenting the bid, we were told that the price was too low and therefore the job was being awarded to someone else. Only after reviewing 2 more estimates that we advised them to get, did they realize they were a victim of what could be called "zip code bidding." Zip code bidding is bidding a job based on the area and apparent wealth of the community, rather than a fair price, others would call it "price gouging." In one part of the county you may be too high and in another you may be too low.

What can homeowners do to protect themselves and at the same time not be unreasonable with their contractor?

  1. All homeowners must take it on themselves to compare equal bids and not be enticed by the lowest bid. Many times there is a reason a company will put in a low bid. Perhaps the low bid does not have to take into account overhead that many other companies do (taxes, insurance, licensing, etc.), or it could be the labor he uses to complete his jobs is not paid according to the wage scale of those he is bidding against. There could be any number of reasons a company comes in as the low bidder, and this is not an effort to discredit the low bid. Just as some homeowners may be lured by the low bid, others may equate quality with price and be lured by the high bid. There are many companies who may come in as the low bidder who are absolutely credible and trustworthy and will do a superb job, but it is up to the homeowner to determine why there may be a difference between bids to insure that they will not be a victim. Always compare apples with apples and oranges with oranges. More often than not, if there seems to be a big discrepancy in estimates, the difference can usually be found in the comparison of what is being offered, and the equality of those offering their bid on the work. If there is a difference that seems substantial the homeowner must find out why in order to prevent possible problems once the project is underway. If there appears to be no major difference in services being offered, other than price, then the homeowner may want to get a third or even fourth bid to help them better compare.
  2. Next, a person close to signing a contract with a home improvement contractor should always make sure that they are properly licensed and insured and that their workers are covered by workers compensation insurance. (This fact will often explain a large difference in estimates received).
  3. Inquire about the crew that will be coming to the home. Are they permanent employees? or does the company pick up day labor on an as needed basis?
  4. Ask for references of projects the company has done, and if it is possible look at some work they may have done in the area. After all of this is done and after all bids have been compared, consider one more fact. Do you feel comfortable with the person you are dealing with? Can you trust them with what may be your largest investment? While there is no guarantee that some of the things mentioned above will be complete assurance against problems, we believe that it is an excellent start.
Testimonials

Our Happy Customers

Thank you for providing us with two highly professional workers.

Dave:

My husband and I would like to tell you how pleased we are with the work that was done by your employers, Juan Maldonado and his co- worker. They were at our house on Wednesday September 23 and Thursday September 24. While here they did carpentry work as well as painting. The end product is truly top of the line. We found Juan and his co- worker to be hard working, pleasant and above all else extremely competent. It will be our pleasure to recommend them to our neighbors, many who saw the Williams truck in front of our house and were curious to know what we were having done, and our many other friends.

Thank you for providing us with two highly professional workers. The result of their work gets an A+.


L.M

Interior Residential Painting McLean,VA.

Dave -

Just a note to let you know that Juan Maldonado did a very nice job for us last week. He was easy to have around and communicated well. It was a job made up of many little jobs and that’s sometimes hard to organize, but he did it! He had creative ideas when there were challenges and he always completed the project.

Thanks for getting it all done before the college party here this past Monday.

Happy Father’s Day!

A.B


A.B

A Painting Project

Dear Rick:

Dago and Eric just left. They did a wonderful job. I really love the way the bedroom looks and as for the guest bathroom, they were able to repair the plaster from the roof leak before painting the room and it looks great. I will definitely fill out a review for you and for them.

I also appreciate the help that Lisa gave us.

Please do not hesitate to give my name if people request a reference.

Best,



V.R

A review for a foreman Juan Maldonado

This is in reference to Juan Maldonado's work at my home from 08/24 to 08/26. Juan was very polite, neat, and on - time, and he and his assistant Daniel did a very good job patching, caulking, and painting. I would use him again.

Sincerely,


B.F

Great Job!!!

I just wanted to say Thank You to Dagoberto Machado for doing such a great job painting my master bathroom. Dagoberto took great care to ensure that everything was covered and protected prior to painting. He worked all day and the results are just lovely. I have requested him specifically in the past for another inside paint job, and will not hesitate to call on him again. Great Job!!!


D.D

Review on a Recent Work

I just wanted to write and say what a nice job Walter and Gino did at our house this past week.

They were very pleasant to work with and have around.

I was very happy with the work.They were extremely focused on making sure I was happy with everything and took extra care to make things perfect.

I would happily have them back again and want to thank you for sending such a great crew to my home!


K.P.

A Professional Interior Painting Project.

Dear Rick,

It is hard to believe that just one week ago you were here to give me my estimate. Now my job is finished!

The crew (D2, Henry, and Les) were great. They were professional, clean, polite -- in a word -- gentlemen. I felt very comfortable with them working in my home. All of the work was carried out to my satisfaction, including the exterior painting and power-washing, the interior repair/caulking prep work, trim, wall, and stairwell painting.

I will definitely call Williams Professional Painting the next time I need a reliable, trustworthy, class "A" painting job!

Sincerely,

P.S. My only regret is not having used your color stylist to assist me in my paint selection.


M. T.

Interior Quality Painting Fairfax Virginia

Dear Rick,

This is a long overdue comment regarding the services Williams Professional Painting provided in painting our home in Fairfax.

First of all it was a pleasure to work with you, Rick, on the estimate, and we felt the price you quoted us was very reasonable for the scope of the job.

I lost the card your painters gave me in the chaos of packing the house – so unfortunately I don’t remember their names, but they were great and I would be happy to have

them in our home again!

The painters were here each day well before the time to start. They were extremely courteous, and usually they left things cleaner than they found them.

We were in chaos trying to prepare for moving, but they were very accommodating; letting me know I got to choose which room they would work on on any given day

so I could stay one room ahead of them clearing out clutter.

As for the quality of the painting it was very good!

I have recommended Williams to our Realtor and if we were staying in the area and needed painting again I would not hesitate to use Williams.

Thank you so much for your excellent service!


D.D.

The quality of the workmanship.

We just had our beautiful historic townhouse painted by Dave with Juan Maldonado as our foreman. The house is absolutely beautiful. The quality of the workmanship, customer service, and professionalism was exceptional. Thank you Dave, Juan and your crew for restoring this beautiful building to its glory. You are truly the best.


J.K

Bien Hecho D2!

"Absolutely fantastic job…and the house is sparkling clean!...Everything looks perfect." Will be leaving a review on Angies' List, as well.


Mr. S

Williams’ painters kept the workplace immaculate!

I can’t say enough about the care and attention to detail that Ricardo Salas and Enriquez provided in repainting a dozen old, peeling 6 over 6 wooden window frames on my home that were down to bare wood in places. I am confident that my 1941 windows are in good shape for many years to come. Williams’ painters kept the workplace immaculate and as a bonus they were great dog-watchers! I was able to let my dogs out the backyard while I was at work, because they were careful to close gates as they went back and forth so no escapes occurred. They treated my property as if it were their own.


D.P

Facebook Review

We use Williams several times a year to keep up with our home. Inside or outside they do a great job. This week was a tough job of wallpaper removal and then prime and paint the master bathroom. Dagoberto and Edwin did a great job and were a pleasure to have around all week.


J.K.

Exterior Painting Estimate

I didn't actually get any work done by Williams because my timeline would not work with the schedule but they actually sent me an email to let me know that they would have to decline the opportunity to work on my project. This is the first time I've ever received such a courtesy from contractors in the home improvement business, and I cannot express how wonderfully professional this is. I have had far too many experiences of contractors coming out to estimate, only to never contact me again, or to go through the trouble of sending me a quote and then never actually schedule the work.


While I did find someone who was able to do the work I requested in my short time frame, in the future, I will definitely contact Williams again for a bid. Just this email was enough to tell me about the company culture here, and I have great confidence in their professionalism.


P.L.

We will be sure to use Williams Professional Painting in the future

My husband and I bought a house last summer and were in need of help with some minor painting projects. We used the "painter for a day" promotion offered through Williams Professional Painting and had a fantastic experience!

To start, Gabriela was so helpful and communicative in providing us with initial information and pricing options. She was always very responsive and quick to follow up, which we really appreciated! She got us scheduled at a convenient time for us and promptly sent email receipt of our deposit for our records.

Franklin came to paint our master bedroom and accent wall in the living room on Thursday, May 19th and my husband and I were so impressed with him! He arrived exactly on time (even a few minutes early!) and was incredibly professional and personable. I never saw him without a smile on his face. His kind demeanor and helpful attitude made the entire process so easy and pleasant. Our master bedroom was carefully and evenly painted and looks great - what a difference! Franklin also patched and repainted our accent wall in our living room as well, as a few various spots that needed touch ups and we are so pleased with the finished product! He even helped me to look through old paint left behind by our home's previous owners and removed the extra cans we no longer needed to properly dispose of it for us, which was so appreciated! Overall, Franklin did a wonderful job and was so friendly too - an added bonus!

We will be sure to use Williams Professional Painting in the future and would most definitely recommend their services to our friends and family!


M.B

The house looks beautiful!

Bob and I are very pleased with the outcome of our painting project. The house looks beautiful. Many of our neighbors have seen your work and have been very impressed. Hopefully some more work will come your way.

We want to give a big thanks to your crew. Lisa was so helpful in the color selections. She also answered many questions on other ideas and always led us int he right direction. Walter and his guys were amazing. They are true professionals and take pride in the work they do. We really appreciated all the time they spent on prepping our walls. They corrected so many of the builder's mistakes. The crown molding that was added really finishes off each room. Give a special thinks to Walter, Carlos, Edwin, Gustavo, and Daniel. Tell the guys that our dog Maisie misses them and Walter can visit her anytime.

We are planning on contacting you again in the Fall to finish off our painting project. That will be the two upstairs guest bedrooms and bath and the garage.


B. and P.

We have always been pleased with Williams Painting

Hi,

This week Juan completed several painting projects around our house and did a wonderful job.He was prompt, neat, and very detailed.The front stoop and trim that were repaired and painted look new (as new as a 180 year old house looks).Most impressive was the back gate.He took perfect measurements of the old rotten gate, built a new one, installed it using our historic hardware and painted it.All in an efficient and precise manner.We have always been pleased with Williams Painting and will continue to use them going forward.

Best,


J.S

A review from a pleased client.

I would like to say how pleased we are with the work that Franklyn, Pablo, Jorge, and Cesar did for us.

We definitely will recommend your services (and already have).

Pls give our kind thanks to those individuals.

Thanks


D.S

Thanks so much!

Good Afternoon,

I hadn't gotten a chance to send a review of our experience with the WPP team for the house painting we recently had done. Lisa made great color recommendations for us, was patient as we tried to figure out what would compliment our space the best, and we were very happy with her service. The paint crew that we had, Dagoberto and Edison, worked quickly and efficiently. A week later, I still have not seen a stray drop of paint. They were punctual, professional and extremely courteous. Everyone on the WPP team was helpful and easy to work with and we won't hesitate to use your services again in the future. Thanks so much!


M. & A. C.

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