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

A Review for Les.

Thank you Dave, if you wish, you have our permission to use photos of our house in use your promotional materials and I am also happy to give you a positive review/testimonial wherever you wish. In any case, please know I will recommend you and your team to our friends. Great doing business with you. We'll be in touch!


B.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.

Thank you very much for such good service!

We were very happy with the work done by Williams Professional Painting and the crew who worked at our house. They were very careful and thorough. I appreciated that they made sure all the windows opened and locked after they finished. Bryan and Daniel (and Edwin earlier) were great! They kept us well-informed about their progress and discussed options at various decision points. I've already recommended your company to two families - and will continue to do that if anyone's looking for this type of service. I also appreciated the way the office kept us informed as we went through all the delays due to rain, and the fact that Milton came by to check on progress and consult on an issue that arose.

Thank you very much for such good service!

Best regards,


D. & T. W.

A Professional Interior Painting Project

Hi Dave,

Gabriela mentioned that I should send a note to you when I called to let her know how happy we were with the services that Jose, JB, and Rodrigo provided. Jose and Tim found a great team to help us finish the job when we determined that we needed a team with experience with durarock instead of drywall. Jose was patient and very attentive to our concerns.JB and Rodrigo replaced part of our walls and repainted the damaged walls and ceiling. Their work is beautiful. I can't even tell there was ever water damage in those areas. They also took great care in making sure our furniture was protected and to minimize dust. Their clean up exceeded expectations. Thanks for sending over such a great team! We look forward to working with them again in the future.

Kind regards,


E.A

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 for Franklin and Edwin

Franklin and Edwin just completed a job on our house, and I wanted to let you know how superb their performance was.

Every day they were on time, they worked hard, and they were meticulous in cleaning up. Franklin always went to us with any questions he had; he never just assumed he knew what we would want.

They were a credit to Williams Professional Painting — providing the high-quality service that we have come to expect from Williams.

Please let them know how pleased we were with their work.

Thank you.


A.P

Great Job!

The Foreman was Walter. They showed up on time, did a fantastic job.

Great job!


B.W

A review for Dagoberto Rodriguez

Mr. Dagoberto Rodriguez did a wonderful job on the bedroom ceiling and wall. I am very pleased with his work. I would like to request him for any future jobs that I may have done by your company. Thank you so much and Have a Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year.


Ms. W.

Exterior Painting And Carpentry. Alexandria, VA.

I had a third-story gutter that was drip-leaking over my deck. I would like to commend Juan Maldonado and his helper for inspecting, ascertaining the problem, and rectifying it. He reviewed the problem, recommended the fix, and after the go-ahead, proceeded to implement it.

It will take another hard rainfall to determine if the repair eliminated the issue completely, but the measures taken by Mr. Maldonado and his crew were well-thought out from his experience, and executed very professionally.

Thanks,

M.M


M.M

An Interior Painting Project.

" as I expected from your high-quality firm, the work was meticulous. Looks great. I wouldn't use or recommend anyone else for painting but Williams..."

Great work!


Mrs. S.

Painting Mclean Virginia

Rick,

I wanted to write to let you know that Cristian and his team once again did an excellent job for us.Both the hallway and the nursery look beautiful.And the outside work also looks great.Even the siding ended up being a perfect match.Cristian and Jorge are so pleasant and professional.With the baby coming next week, we really appreciate you fitting us in on such a short time frame.Thank you again!



B.W.

A Review for Franklin

We are very happy with the work as we have been in the past.I would like to commend Franklin who supervised the job. He is very much up to the standards that we have come to expect from Williams.


K.K

When Sandy reached out for help with creating a new home office, we were excited to lend a hand. She had a fantastic space that just needed to be creatively reconfigured.



Sandy

Williams Professional Painting

Williams Professional Painting soundproofed a room in my condo by installing a layer of Quietrock over existing drywall. My goal was to soundproof against surrounding sounds coming from any of the neighbors. With the soundproofing work done by Williams Professional Painting, this goal has been attained. Abel, Rene, and Nestor were the team that installed the walls, and Rick (the business owner) and Jose oversaw the project. The team were consummate professionals. They have a lot of experience with installing Quietrock EZ-Snap and Green Glue. This type of drywall install is intensive work that requires specific skill and experience; for example, Green Glue cures fast after application, so walls with Green Glue need to be put up right after glue application. Abel and team knew all the details and did everything perfectly, including not only the Quietrock EZ-Snap and Green Glue install, but also extensively sealing all seams with acoustical caulk (Green Glue Noiseproofing Sealant was used for this), extending the electrical/cable/phone outlets and switches and adding Quietputty around them, putting back floor trim perfectly, and adding door trims (which Abel and team made) around room closet doors to match new wall thickness. At the end, they painted the room and the ceiling. They did a great job, engineering-wise (the soundproofing works great), and aesthetically (the walls, corners, ceiling, outlets, etc. look perfect, you wouldn't guess that a second layer has been added over the original). The painting job was also great. In addition, they finished in the timeframe initially agreed upon, and were attentive and responsive (to my many questions) throughout the project. Their work produced minimal amount of dust (they are pros at cutting & handling drywall). They also left the place very clean. In conclusion, a great experience.


C.T.

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.

Professional Interior Painting In Alexandria, Virginia

Ricardo and Pablo painted my master bedroom suite consisting of the bedroom, bathroom, and 2 walk-in closets. Ricardo was the foreman on a job in our house last year and he did a wonderful job; they did the whole basement. Because he did such a good job we requested him by name to do our master suite. Again, he did not disappointment us. The finished work is perfect, he does the best cut-in of any painter I have seen. My wife and I are both Realtors here, we see a lot of houses, and the quality of Ricardo's work is far better than most homes we see. He is courteous, respectful, works hard, takes extreme pride in his work, has a great attitude, is punctual and precise in his work. Clone him!!!

I copied my wife on the email so she can see the comments.

Warm Regards,

David

David Rainey, REALTOR

Your At Home Team

McEnearney Associates

109 Pitt Street

Alexandria, VA 22314


D.R

Excellent work, very professional.

Painted exterior included repairing rotten boards, refinished deck. Excellent work, very professional, they were helpful in working with my schedule.


R.G.

Williams Professional Painting

Mary, I was just thinking about you. Driving back from the job now. It all looks wonderful. Very impressive what Milton and his guys did. They are so happy. I love working with your company. The office admin person is back from a conference and will get me the check next week. As I was taking the elevator up a woman commented on my toile tote bag and asked for my card as they will be renovating their dental office. Love it.

Have a fabulous weekend.


C.

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