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

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

A Review from Washington, DC

Ricardo and Cesar were fantastic. Prompt, professional, and kept me informed at every step. Please let their manager know.


J.K

A Review for an outstanding job.

Amy,

Please see my post on Facebook. Bryan and Daniel did an outstanding job for us today and we couldn't be more pleased. Thanks again for the outstanding job.


H & M W

Williams Prof Painting did a great job.

Williams Prof Painting did a great job on our huge 2-story windows and walls in our family room. When Rick came to do an estimate, he assured me they do this kind of work all the time, and they take great pride in their work. Carlos and Jorge were our painters and were always courteous and professional. Everyone communicated well and we could't be more please. Will use them again. Great job from a well-run company.


E.B

Williams Professional Painting

Hello,

We are writing to express our thanks to Dagobarto for doing such a wonderful job painting the room we plan to use as a nursery for our new baby.

The prior paint job was not great and he did a fantastic job putting on the new color and trim, as well as cleaning up the mess that was already there. He was prompt, attentive, and professional and my husband and could not be happier with the results. The nursery looks fantastic.

Thanks again and we will certainly consider your company for paint work, and of course recommend your business to others we know.

Thanks,


P. & D. A.

Exterior Painting Washington, DC

Dear Rick - A quick note to thank you for extraordinary work on my garden wall on 33rd Street. In particular I'd like to compliment Jose and his team for doing a beautiful job on time and under budget -- all without disturbing our tenant or neighbors! I will most definitely work with you guys again the next time we need help with our house.

Regards,

Brian


B.H

A Review from Clifton, VA

Everything looks great. They did a fantastic job and were very professional.

Thank you!


J.L

Interior Painting Project

Bryan Pinto, one of William's foremen, and his team showed up early the first day and performed their work with efficiency and care. The team finished the job promptly and did excellent work, carefully executing detailed carpentry work on crown trim and painting as high as the peak of our four story town-home. Very impressed with their work and would hire again.


Z.W

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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 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

Thank you again!

" Dear Mr. Chaves,

You have a wonderful Hardworking crew, polite, and kind, and the house looks beautiful! My husband of 60 years is in the hospital and will have to remain for long term care. I will take a picture of the house to cheer him up!

Thank you again."

Great job!


J.J

A Satisfied Customer!

To Whom it may concern:

Franklin just worked on our basement and did a wonderful job.Very professional and informative re: the drywall fix. We will certainly use his services on any of our future issues re: wall painting issues etc.. Highly Recommended!!AAA+ Grade!!

Satisfied Customer!!

Sincerely,


H.S.

An Interior Project

I am very pleased with the work that was done. The painters were very courteous and friendly. Thank you for the great service!


K.B.

What You Should Know About Us

Completely Invested

Our neighbors have been trusting us for over 40 years, and we want our appreciation to show!

Experience and Education

Take advantage of our experience and training. Have questions? Ask away! Need help? We’re here.

Honesty Is Key

No fuzzy prices or timelines. Just clear, detailed communication.

The Best Team

Our painters are invested in their trade and love working on our team. See for yourself!

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Whether we’re painting your home or your high-rise, you can expect clean, orderly work habits.

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