At least 4,159 reasons to use Hometalk

In 2011, the BBB reported 4,159 complaints about construction and remodeling services (according to Remodeling Mag, 2.2012). Now that is just the tip of the iceberg of complaints. Hometalk will not prevent complaints but hopefully the more a consumer is informed and educated, picking the right contractors, understanding the scope of work and keeping the costs of addressing issues will go down. Good contractors working with informed consumers can hopefully avoid escalating to complaints that often are not resolved.
  24 answers
  • Peace Painting Co., Inc. Peace Painting Co., Inc. on Feb 21, 2012
    I believe your point. Is that number for the whole nation? CP

  • That can't be for the whole nation. Sounds like a state, or maybe even one city lol (hope it's not Orlando)! I have to agree Kevin that an informed consumer is certainly better off. We've had quite a few horror stories get posted here. If anybody out there has a question about anything having to do with contractors please ask. We've had a few just check in to see if what their current contractors are/plan on doing is the correct thing, sometimes the contractor is way off from the norm.

  • SawHorse Design Build SawHorse Design Build on Feb 21, 2012
    Beware of low prices. I spoke to a lady today that got a quote for an attic addition that was half the cost of what SawHorse or other reputable firms would charge. Unfortunately, I have seen the final result and it is not pretty. The homeowner gets stuck with a half finished product since the contractor (intentionally or unintentionally) under bid the job. I have a file full of follow up quotes where people stated that "They Should have chosen SawHorse." Don't be a statistic- choose a reputable, experienced contractor.

  • I believe that is the number for the nation reported by the BBB but there are only 116 BBB in the US and Canada together so certainly not covering every city. And of course not every complaint goes to the BBB. I did a little research on my own and found that in 2005 complaints processed in US by BBB with general contractors were 12,693. If the number went down, I suspect it is a reporting issue and not actually a decrease in number of complaints.

  • Peace Painting Co., Inc. Peace Painting Co., Inc. on Feb 21, 2012
    They sent me an email this year saying a complaint had been filed and would I please respond immediately. I responded that I knew of no complaint and could they be more specific. After the forth or fifth time of asking them to respond, and reminding them of their word "immediately", I gave up. It did not leave a good taste, but who do I report them too? Ha! CP

  • SawHorse Design Build SawHorse Design Build on Feb 22, 2012
    The BBB does serve it's purpose, but some of their efforts to generate extra revenue are not entirely beneficial to the businesses have to pay for it.

  • Rule4 Building Group Rule4 Building Group on Feb 22, 2012
    Lots of good stuff here. @Peace Painting Re: the BBB complaints, here in Greater MD they have had some scam issues, where you get notification about a complaint but it's not genuine. We have had a couple over the last few months, I could tell it was spam as it was our "info" email rather than the official address I have registered with the BBB for complaint notification. I informed BBB, it helps them do something about it. Also BBB have just upgraded profile options for businesses, since I uploaded a load of images to our profile, the traffic from our profile direct to our website has increased so it's worth doing. Here's our current profile if you want to see an example. Finally, I know that many potential customers find us by other routes such as Google Search, referrals etc. But they often check us out at the BBB before they call us. For that reason alone we will continue to support them. Allison, Rule4

  • SawHorse Design Build SawHorse Design Build on Feb 22, 2012
    Good points @Rule4. I have found that there are many ways to pay for upgrades and I would suggest paying for them on the sites that you believe in. There are many free sites that are SEO friendly and I would suggest trying out as well. I believe that SawHorse will be presenting some of these in a conference in the next month or so for Hometalk Users. I will need to double check the date.

  • Peace - go back to the BBB and get a live person on the phone to make sure whatever the issue was..has been corrected. Always contact the local BBB by phone FIRST before responding via email. We've maintained our A+ rating for 16 with the BBB this way. Sadly, many of those who file BBB complaints are just miserable people...same as those who right negative online review anonymously. It didn't used to count for much but many of my clients now check with the BBB first before they sign up for work.

  • Peace Painting Co., Inc. Peace Painting Co., Inc. on Feb 22, 2012
    If they did not respond reciprocally, I did not want to waste anymore time Andy. I checked out my name there and nothing came up. I did not feel like begging them to admit it if they made a mistake. At least this route made me feel better (--;

  • Paul M Paul M on Feb 22, 2012
    Careful about listening to the BBB. They are privately owned and paid for by companies to give skewed points of view and those that don't play their game get a bad rep until they pay for a good rep. And if you happen to have a case against someone that pays for the good rep good luck getting anywhere through the BBB. Better to post your complaint with the state attorney general if you want to get a resolution. I would have thought you knew that Kevin, being an attorney. Don't trust the BBB or their figures, all of their info is paid for, or not, as the case may be.

  • Peace Painting Co., Inc. Peace Painting Co., Inc. on Feb 22, 2012
    Anyway, the best business bureau is here at Hometalk (-;

  • Sherrie S Sherrie S on Feb 22, 2012
    Kevin, I personally don't use BBB reporting for reasons I won't spell out on this site. I always depended on good contractors referring me to another good contractor. Sometimes I can't get a referral because of the type of work & this is a great reason to be here on hometalk. I trust this site.

  • Paul, I often refer people to the Office of Consumers Affairs. The original post was about the number of complaints received by BBB. Now myself, I tell people that when they are checking out a contractor (including those on Hometalk), check others sources including the BBB. If they have a A+ rating from BBB, that just means you don't have a red flag. If they have a F rating, run run run run run. Same with that other site named after a southern pesty weed. The absence of bad reports does not mean they "check out", it only says keep checking. And even bad reports can provide info -- read the reports, see how the contractor deals with complaints. If they are posting "You stupid consumer....." responses run. If they are posting "we are sorry and contact us to correct", that is better customer service, ask more questions and check references. I encourage them to check Hometalk and ask questions and read the responses of contractors they may want to use from this site (and what others respond to them). Personally I think when you see contractor X post info and 3 other contractors say that is correct, you are getting some good feedback. And if you post info here and, let's say that a certain attorney says that it looks like the scope of work requires a licensed GA contractor and that the contractor you are selecting does not appear to be state licensed, you're probably getting great info [you're getting great info!--would that be bragging?]

  • Based on my reading of past articles, a good third of the BBB complaints are from the type of customer who has no specific complaint but may be of a passive/aggressive personality or a HO who simply wants leverage to negotiate a lower final price via strong-arm tactics, or people who will never be satisfied even if you give them the moon and the stars But I agree that the number reported is merely the tip of the iceberg. There are far too ,many hacks in this industry, and too many HOs who are only interested in the lowest price. In thepast, I have bid commercial work against low-ballers who have a technique of bidding low with contract language that allows them to upcharge change work orders for every little thing. One county in which I worked made it a policy to automatically throw out the lowest bid. I recall on job where I and three other reputable firms all bid within a thousand dollars of each other on a 25K job. The low bid was for 19K and they were awarded the job. Due to their substandard work, I was getting calls to fix their job within one year. Why were they not called? They were out of business!

  • Good points Nichter. I've never paid a dime to the BBB and have always been treated fairly there. The bigger one to look out for is the Consumer Guide that lands in our mailboxes every season....Clark Howard complains about it most years. It's a "rating" of local trade contractors but homeowners don't realize that those rated A & B have paid big dollars for's just a marketing piece. I get homeowners all the time who ask me why HandyANDY isn't in there!

  • Paul M Paul M on Feb 23, 2012
    The reason I presented my warning Kevin is that I recently had an issue with a supposedly reputable company who when confronted with a problem of their making denied any responsibility with that issue. After filling a report with the BBB this problem was not addressed, the case was closed, and the issue was swept under the rug. This happened three times and I finally started researching the BBB only to find out what I mentioned in my previous post. I learned that when it comes to any individual, contractor, or company that you just won't know where you stand with any one until you have a problem. In my case I can tell you that the warranty that the company has in writing is not worth the paper it is printed on.

  • Paul, I agree that often a warranty is used as a marketing tool where consumers who are not informed believe they can stop their due diligence "because there is a warranty". Warranties do not substitute for good work to begin with and checking out the reputation of a company. In construction, with so much being done, the potential of a warranty claim is high. The question is will they warrant it. I often tell people I can offer them a 1,000 year warranty on a roof -- good luck trying to actually find me to collect!

  • SawHorse Design Build SawHorse Design Build on Feb 24, 2012
    I only get 1 comment a year about our good listing on the BBB. I get many more about our positive reviews on other sites. Also, keep in mind who you ar trying to impress. The newer generations will look for reviews on yelp, yahoo, bing etc before they go to the BBB. I personally like getting reviews on since the community can interact with my homeowners and see their projects.

  • The Manly Club The Manly Club on Feb 26, 2012
    I don't want to sound like a commercial for our company but I would like to add something to this conversation. The overall unavoidable trap that homeowners are always in risk of falling into is the ever changing complexion of any home improvement company whether they are part of the BBB or not. A great rating from the BBB or any other list or agency can be deceptive. Months and sometimes years go by before a companies problems bubble up to the surface and start showing up on these services like BBB. There is nothing real-time about them. Imagine a great company with a great rating changes owners and the new owner is horrible. Or, let's say the owner goes through a nasty divorce or looses a key skilled worker , or has to fight alcoholism or a sickness. These issues can dramatically effect how that company performs. Someone could see great ratings all over the place, hire them because of that and then have a horrific experience because the company had changed dramatically over the course of the months it takes for problems to show up publicly. I have seen this happen countless times. Sorry but here is the commercial part......this is why we created We are regional and only doing the window replacement category right now but we are going nationwide and expanding into all categories of home improvement. Our service allows homeowners to avoid this trap completely. They never have to worry that a contractor they are thinking of hiring is not being monitored in real-time so they can hire with 100% confidence. We also make the entire process a lot easier and less time consuming but you can check that out on our site if you like. This is the direction the entire industry needs to go in. There needs to be safeguards and standards in place so homeowners can stop having to cross their fingers and pray every time they hire a contractor. Again, sorry for the self-promotion but I wanted to add to the conversation by letting people know that help is on the way.

  • HomePro, no problem with promoting your business. You explained first to homeowners what potential issues there may be that would not be reflected in past reviews. Overall I think your verification looks great. I have seem some services promise that in the past but not deliver on their promises. Looking forward to hearing more about your system. You're absolutely right that past performance in only one part of checking a contractor. Supervisors can change. Staffing and employees and personal and business issues can impact.

  • Peace Painting Co., Inc. Peace Painting Co., Inc. on Feb 27, 2012
    As far as housing in general is concerned, it's impressive that we do such a good job of picking out our automobiles but many times make not so informed decisions when buying or fixing our houses. CP

  • Peace, I agree but there are some significant differences. Autos are mass produced and generally when you buy a new vehicle, you are pretty well assured you are going to get one that runs and performs as expected, so the information people can get is easily understandable and available. Often people buy a car every few years. There are a limited number of car makers and a great deal of information. However, most people may select a remodeler once or twice in their lifetime and a lot of confusing information. While I urge homeowners to understand what can happen (as many hometalkers are aware) in any project, I cannot entirely find fault with them for not understanding the risks and the problems.

  • Peace Painting Co., Inc. Peace Painting Co., Inc. on Feb 27, 2012
    That makes a lot of sense Kevin. Thanks for explaining that in a way I can understand, it's a very accurate perspective.