A couple of years ago our growing family needed more living space. It seemed to make more sense to add space to our present home rather than to move to a larger one. This was partly due to cost but also because we loved our neighborhood, our neighbors and particularly the school district, and we didn’t want to just pack up everything and move.

We met with a contractor recommended by a friend and explained that we wanted to enlarge the family room and build a bedroom and half-bath above.  The contractor explained that we would need to hire an architect to draw up plans and get city approval before we could build. He gave us the name of two architects and  we selected one who drew up plans for us and walked us through the city process.  We thought it was a bit odd that the contractor asked us to get the permits ourselves. He said it would be easier. Later we discovered that the contractor was not licensed and that the insurance information he provided us was outdated and  inaccurate.

The project finally started and seemed to be going well until the main materials were delivered. They were just dumped in our driveway. Our contractor went AWOL for 2 days and then finally turned up to move the materials. Again, very odd, but we were just happy to be able to park our cars in the garage.

This was a minor inconvenience compared to the next disaster. When the roof had been opened up to connect the framing for the room addition, a winter storm hit and water started bucketing into the upstairs bedroom and down into our kitchen below. The carpet upstairs was soaked. My heart sank when i got that phone call from my daughter. I left messages for the contractor but he didn’t answer until the next day.

The series of problems continued. The wrong carpet was delivered and it was the cheapest quality imaginable. We had to pay another $720 to have carpet installed that was acceptable. Other items like lighting fixtures and doors were not the ones we had selected.

The worst issues only became apparent after we had fully paid the contractor. We didn’t even think to hold some money back. There were cracks in the sheet rock joints, paint was peeling off of some of the trim, a couple of the light switches behaved weirdly and there was an odd sound whenever the new bathroom sink was used. When we tried to get in touch with the contractor to get him to come out and correct these issues we discovered that his phone had been disconnected and that there was no way for us to locate him.

We got stung. We should have checked out our contractor thoroughly. We  should have specified materials in our contract and we should have insisted he got the permits himself. We certainly learned the hard way.