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 Bryan and Carlos

We had previously used Williams Professional Painting; so we knew we would get quality work. Bryan and Carlos were very professional. They arrived on time both days, worked quickly and produced outstanding results. The upper floor of the townhouse was especially difficult due to the shape of the ceiling and accessibility to some of the walls. Again, I was very pleased with how they accomplished the task and the speed with which they moved. I would not hesitate to call on Williams Professional Painting again. They are a little expensive; but well worth the expense. Bryan and Carlos are excellent painters...ask for them if you use their service.


B.L

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.

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

Williams Professional Painting

Good Morning,

Recently my house was painted, I am very please with Mr. Dagaberto Rodriguez work. He behaved very professional and courteous.I will not hesitate to recommend him for a job.

Thank You,


M.T

Very responsive in their communication with us.

They provided an accurate estimate, purchased paint and other supplies, painted about 3/4 of the rooms in our house, moved all furniture and replaced everything as they found it, cleaned up and were very responsive in their communication with us.


L.G.

The final result is beautiful

Ricardo Salas was the foreman on the two man crew that repaired extensive damage and painted my house this week. He arrived to the minute on time, and worked with discipline and skill all day every day. He went above and beyond to make the work perfect..even painting the tiny ceiling space above the huge window near the ceiling. He was polite and courteous.He is one of the finest workers I have ever seen at my home. The final result is beautiful. Thank you.


L.H 6/10/15

Thank you for another job well done.

Just want to let you know that my husband and I are very pleased with the carpentry repairs done by Juan Maldonado and the painting done by Adalberto and Erik. As usual, all work was done in a professional manner. At the conclusion of the job, our outdoor furniture was moved back into place and the remaining paint was labeled, boxed, and placed in our garage – all we had to do was enjoy!

Thank you for another job well done.

Sincerely,


S & G

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.

An Interior Professional Painting

Dagoberto Madrado (sp?) and Pablo tackled repainting the interior of my home. I was impressed by the way they scoped out the job and the way they chose to tackle it. And, tackle it they did with professionalism and skill, all the while touching base even on such minor details such as whether I wanted to rehang pictures where they were. It I was especially impressed with the care they took in prep work, which, no doubt, made the final result excellent. After each day, Dagoberto would ask me to take a careful look at their work and give him feedback. They were especially careful about making sure furniture was appropriately moved and put back. Both Dagoberto and Pablo are truly an asset to Williams Brothers. This was the second time I’ve engaged Williams Brothers, and on both occasions the result was outstanding. The attention to detail Dagoberto and Pablo gave to my home was outstanding. They should be proud of the result as I am pleased by it.


P.B.

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.

A Holiday Treat!

"Thank you for coming over to pick up the check; I appreciate it. And please tell Santos and Rodrigo how much I appreciate nice work – especially finishing the extra work in time to show off the whole house to my Thanksgiving company. That was a nice holiday treat!"


P.H

Thanks for the good work - you are truly "professional"!

Franklin and his crew (Carlos, Jorge, JB, and Daniel) did an outstanding job painting the exterior trim on our house.With it raining almost every day this month, they managed to get the work finished by staying until after 7pm on clear days and working all day one Saturday.The work quality was excellent, they respected the interior of our house and always wore foot protection, and they kept us informed about when they were coming and when they couldn't due to the weather.They were very professional and committed to getting the work done and done right.Our thanks to the entire crew!We definitely will recommend Williams for any painting job and will use them again on our next (hopefully interior) painting project.

Thanks for the good work - you are truly "professional"!


P. & C. M

Thanks for another great painting and repair job.

Carlos finished up and looking good. Thanks for another great painting and repair job.

Williams Professional Painting Delivers!


P. & D. C

Interior Painting Alexandria, Virginia

Hi Alvis. I just wanted to thank you for your help. Carlos S. came to my house yesterday to do the work we talked about earlier. I loved him. He was such a nice person and very professional throughout the entire process. I really appreciated the way he explained everything to me and did all the work so carefully. I felt very fortunate that Carlos was assigned to my project. I will request him for my next project too. And I have many more things on the list. Thanks, Alvis.



K.C.

A Review for a Flawless Job!

These guys are simply the best. They did work all over the house, recaulking a tub, dealing with water damage, rebuilding a ceiling over two attached rooms - i.e. not a terribly simple or quick job. They took their time, worried about the details, and ended up doing a flawless Job. Cristian, the Foreman, was lovely, touching base at the beginning and end of each day, staying on top of everything. I would use these guys again and again.

Thank you.


M.C.

A Professional Exterior Painting Project

Dave, et. al.,

It was a pleasure to work with Jorge and Juan as they went about the task of improving our building. They did a great job, were attentive to our wishes, and cleaned up nicely every day. They represent you well.


B.S

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.

I'll be sure to recommend this company and the services of Rick and Bryan to all of my friends.

I cold called Williams Professional Painting while searching for painters for my new condo in DC to obtain a quote. I was able to promptly talk to Rick Williams on the phone and he was extremely responsive and reasonable. I told him I recently purchased a condo and wanted to repaint everything prior to moving in. He sent an estimator out to my condo. The estimator, Jose, showed up on time and was extremely courteous, even removed his shoes prior to entering my condo. He took measurements of the rooms and recommended different types of paints for the rooms. I discussed with Rick that I needed the job done in two days and he said it wouldn't be a problem. His crew led by foreman Bryan arrived on time and was also extremely courteous and professional. Their #1 priority seems to be getting the job done correctly. Some of my paint colors were rather dark for accent walls and although my contract said 2 coats of paint, Bryan used 3 coats to ensure that the accent walls were painted properly.

Rick's team kept their word and finished my project in 2 days, even though it required bringing in a few extra painters, they still did not lapse their deadline. In the end, I am glad I hired Williams Professional Painting and did not take on this task myself or hire hourly help to assist me to paint. I'll be sure to recommend this company and the services of Rick and Bryan to all of my friends.


A.P

What You Should Know About Us

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