New York’s Consumer Protection Board investigates Home Improvement Industry

I love New York. The New York State Consumer Protection Board’s Home Improvement Initiative is on. The CPB hopes to better protect consumers while encouraging opportunities for contractors through a multi-step process.

Phase one involves online surveys for both homeowners and home improvement contractors plus making a comprehensive hire-a contractor tips complete with model contract package available online. Phase two, the public hearings, are now in progress.

Watch the video report or read the source story on News 10 Now. Plus another news report on Channel 9.

Read about New York’s Home Improvement Initiative on the New York State Consumer Protection Board website or call the Board directly at 1-800-697-1220. You can still have your say – take the CPB Homeowner Survey online. If you are a home improvement contractor, you may want to take the Contractor Survey.

I do admire the CPB for the effort. But if I was a contractor, I might not be enamored with the Contractor Survey questions which are all about qualifications / credentials; the survey reads like a reference check more than a way for contractors to join in a constructive discussion on how to improve the situation. What contractor in his right mind is going to put down he’s an unlicensed contractor then his name and address in case they want to contact him??

But it’s the thought that counts right?

Win your very own Hardware Store, a million dollar value

Yep.  You can win an entire hardware store, thanks to the good folks at Ace Hardware.  And not for just shopping in either.  If you win, you’ll actually have to work there and be nice to people.  The joys of ownership.

I joke but this is a serious contest, which will give one aspiring entrepreneur who has the right combination of skills & savvy the opportunity to own and run his or her own hardware business.

“Successful contestants will demonstrate a combination of business and sales expertise, entrepreneurial spirit and home improvement knowledge, as well as a true commitment to helpfulness.”

Judging for the competition will take place in New York and Chicago but the actual store location will be in Houston, Texas or an “alternate location at Ace’s discretion”.

You can enter the contest any time in January (2007) by going to  Read the full press release on

Home Remodeling Horror – 2 sides to this story

One of the underlying ideas behind is that we all can learn from others’ home renovation experiences and especially their mistakes.

Here are 2 articles by Allan Drury of The Journal News about one such cautionary tale, in all it’s gory and unsettling detail.

“The dispute is a good example of the troubles consumers and contractors can face when a large-scale home renovation project goes wrong.

The consumer ends up with an unfinished house and little recourse despite having spent hundreds of thousands of dollars. The contractor can be stuck without an easy way to collect money he feels he is legally owed. If the sides go to court, they can be in for a legal fight that can drag on for months.”

Read In-house dispute costs everyone first and then Both sides looking back. The latter article includes timely tips for both homeowners and builders / general contractors that will help you avoid litigious outcomes like this one.

Two things jumped out at me immediately.  First, how the breakdown of trust and communication between the parties escalated the situation.  How much effort did the contractor put into managing the process and the homeowners’ expectations?

Secondly, how important it is to check references, and from a wide variety of sources. One positive recommendation, even from a “trusted source”, isn’t enough. Stay tuned folks ;)

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