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The Crazy Things Home Owners Say To Contractors

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Jun 04,2013 @ 06:00 AM

The Crazy Things Home Owners Say To Contractors

Crazy things customers say


Any contractor who has been in business even for a short time has probably had to shake his/her head at something a prospect or client has said during conversation.  Often times the statement or question might be the result of the homeowner’s honest ignorance about how construction and contracting work.  On the other hand sometimes it seems the logic behind their statements comes from left field or maybe even from some distant galaxy!

Here are a few that I have experienced and one recently shared with me by a contractor I work with.  I thought it would be fun to share these and see if others would share some of their own experiences about what crazy clients and prospects have said to them.  Remember, the purpose is to be fun and informative.  Please be professional!


You pay your guys $75/hr!

Crazy things prospects sayWhen I owned my remodeling business I had one prospect question me about a quote I gave her for some repair work at her home.   She asked me what I was charging her per hour for the carpenter who would be doing the work.  I told her the hourly rate would be $75.00 per hour.  To that she responded in a very dramatic tone; “You pay your guys $75.00 an hour?”  

I was dumb founded and had no idea how to respond to that one.  What does it say about our school systems and or the intelligence level of consumers when they think a business charges $75/hr for services rendered but then turns around and pays the person doing the work the full $75/hr?  Did that woman think I started and ran a business just so I could collect money and then turn around and give it all away, no money to cover overhead costs, labor burdens and profit?


It’s your fault my basement is flooded

Crazy CustomersOn another project my remodeling business was working on, a kitchen renovation, the client’s basement flooded during a heavy rain storm.   Their gutters were packed with leaves and as a result the water on the roof just flowed over their gutters and right into the areaway for the basement access door.   This all happened overnight after my employees had left for the day.  

The customer called us first thing the next morning to complain and said it had never happened before and must be our fault because we were there doing work on their home.   Of course we panicked thinking it was a broken pipe.  When we got there and discovered the real reason for the flood the home owner actually told my carpenter she would not hold us responsible for the flood if we cleaned her gutters and pumped the water out of her basement for free!


The Angie’s List complaint tactic

customer problems for contractorsOne of my consulting/coaching clients told me one of his customers complained about a 1/32” gap in a miter joint on a built-in cabinet he built.  The customer went on to make a big stink about it and made some threats.  Then the customer told the contractor to forgive the final payment due or “ I will go to every place I can find you on the net and write a bad review”.

The contractor told me he did stand up for himself and called the customer's bluff.  Eventually he was paid in full but said it was very stressful. I don’t know about you but I would call that blackmail or maybe even extortion!  Think about that scenario.  What would you do?  Would you stand up for what’s right and demand your final payment?  A bad write-up on Angie’s list could cost a business far more in bad PR than the balance of money due.  Plus, it’s my understanding that businesses can’t be proactive about writing reviews about their clients at Angie’s List, they can only try to respond after a member customer has already posted a negative review.   Just ask Chris Dietz about his experiences with the Law suit he is going through regarding a review posted by one of his customers on Angie’s List and Yelp.


"The Vendor Client Relationship - In Real World Situations"



What about you? 

Have you experienced some crazy conversations and or comments from home owners during your years of experience as a contractor?  Please share them with the rest of us so we can all shake our heads and have a few good laughs as well!


Topics: Videos, Fun Stuff, Customer Relations

EPA Finally Going After Firms Not Certified Under RRP Rule?

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Mar 31,2013 @ 06:00 AM

RRP Rule updatesEPA Finally Going After Firms Not Certified Under RRP Rule?

The EPA’s Renovation, Repair and Painting rule (RRP) came into effect in April of 2010. Since that time over 100,000 firms have been lead-safe certified by EPA, and about 20,000 more have been certified or licensed in the twelve states authorized by EPA to take over the rule.  And, approximately 450,000 individuals are now Certified Renovators after having been trained in lead-safe work practices.

These numbers might sound impressive to the lay person

Even EPA has continuously touted these numbers as great progress.   However, there are at least 650,000 businesses in the United States that claim most of their revenues from renovation work.  And, many other businesses from industries other than construction and many landlords also perform work that falls under the RRP rule.   I estimate there are at least one million entities that should have been certified to do RRP work by now if EPA was actually enforcing the RRP Rule intended to protect children from lead poisoning.  


Report card update

Lead poisoning effects on children



Last year at this time I posted a blog on RRPedia that was a report card on how I thought EPA had been performing regarding the RRP Rule.  I just finished re-reading it and, unfortunately, not a whole lot has changed in the past year.  

The lack of adequate enforcement leaves a false sense of protection for parents and citizens who believe their government is protecting our young children from the dangers of lead.  Many contractors and others believe EPA’s lack of enforcement has actually caused an increase in the poisoning of children as a result of the rule.  This very same consideration was shared with EPA by stakeholders well before the rule went into place.  Their argument is that illegally operating businesses are getting an unfair competitive advantage because they can sell jobs at a much lower price by avoiding the required work practices.  Homeowners unaware of the rule and or the real dangers of lead poisoning, looking to save money, buy from these illegally operating businesses.


Here is one contractor’s way of assessing the situation and his opinion about the rule:



Has EPA finally taken action?

Recently EPA has finally publicly recognized that too many firms are still operating without the required certification, have not following the required lead-safe work practices and “may” be putting children at risk for lead exposure. 

EPA RRP Enforsement updateEPA claims it wants to level the playing field for those contractors who are already certified. But, rather than go after these firms and bring them into compliance, EPA has decided to send them a post card.  You heard that right, rather than do enforcement, they are sending out a post card.

EPA is mailing a postcard to non-certified contractors in target areas around the country in states that have significant amounts of older housing.  According to EPA, their goal is to “remind” these contractors of their obligation to become certified.  I guess EPA assumes they forgot to become certified so they need to be reminded. 

How effective do you think their “reminder” campaign will be?


Note: Thanks to Paul Lesieur for his musical talents and humor in the video above. 

Topics: Videos, Opinions from Contractors, RRP Related

Videos About The EPA RRP Rule Offer Good Refresher Info

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Mar 10,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Videos About The EPA RRP Rule; RRP Information For Renovators

RRP Instructor Shawn McCadden


Back in 2010 when the RRP Rule first went into effect I completed a series of seven videos about the EPA RRP rule. The RRP videos were done for Remodeling magazine. They are posted to the Remodeling TV area of Remodeling’s web site.

The series is titled “The Insider's Guide to the EPA's Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule”. It covers critical information about the Environmental Protection Agency's RRP rule and certification process, and explains how the rule can or will affect your contracting business.


Below is a list of the videos, with a brief description of what is discussed in each one as well as links to view them:

Video One: The EPA RRP Rule and Your Business

This video covers the business responsibilities, associated liabilities and risks related to the RRP Rule. Kermit Baker, Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies stresses that remodelers need to become experts in this area or leave the work to others who are. Attorney Mike Sams of Kenney & Sams, P.C. warns about the legal liabilities for failure to follow the regulations. Shawn McCadden discusses the firm and worker certification process, related fees as well as certified renovator and firm responsibilities.


Video Two: RRP Training

This video covers the worker training requirements of the rule and the content of the EPA Certified Renovator training class. Shawn McCadden also discusses the importance and benefits of choosing a training class conducted by a training instructor with real life renovation experience.


Video Three: EPA RRP Notification Requirements

The EPA RRP rule specifies certain notification requirements depending on where the work is done and who occupies and or visits the building being renovated. This video covers these requirements, related firm documentation requirements as well as the information and documentation that must be given to property owners and others. Shawn McCadden also discusses many of the important details that must be included in the required documentation.


Video Four: RRP Work Practices

This video includes a summary of the required lead-safe work practices required under the RRP Rule. Shawn McCadden walks through critical considerations related to the rule that must be followed to stay in compliance with the rule, protect occupants and workers and to control costs. Shawn also discusses interior and exterior cleaning and cleaning verification requirements.


Video Five: RRP Record Keeping

Inspection of the required documentation under the rule will be a major enforcement tool used by EPA. In this video Shawn McCadden discusses the required documentation related to worksite activities as well as many business administration activities. Mark Paskell of the Contractor Coaching Partnership shares a few of the many methods EPA will have at their disposal to inspect and verify a firm’s compliance with the rule. Shawn adds several more methods to Mark’s list and also discusses the penalties and fines EPA can assess on violators.


Video Six: Exemptions to RRP Work Practices

In this video Shawn McCadden gives examples of when, where and why the RRP rule and work practices are not required under the rule. Shawn stresses that even if the work practices are not required under the RRP rule, your business will still be liable if lead poisoning and or contamination results from the way work is performed. Shawn and contractor insurance expert Tom Messier of Mason and Mason Insurance both stress the importance of verifying proper and adequate insurance coverage to protect your business, available coverage options as well as related costs for coverage.


Video Seven: Business Considerations and Summary

Shawn Mccadden stresses that this new rule is a game changer. Shawn tells us businesses must take this new rule seriously and adjust their business practices accordingly to protect profits and control liabilities. Mark Paskell of the Contractor Coaching Partnership stresses that contractors should verify that the documentation forms they use will comply with the rule and also assist the business in managing and performing the work. Gerry McGonagle of Belfor Property Restoration offers his advice on qualifying the right employees to do the work. Shawn also discusses some of the new responsibilities the rule brings with it for employees in all positions within the business.

Topics: Videos, Success Strategies, Legal Considerations, RRP Related

Understanding and Complying With Home Improvement Contractor Laws

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Feb 05,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Help Understanding and Complying With Home Improvement Contractor Laws

MA HIC videos with Shawn McCaddenMany remodeling contractors may be operating their businesses illegally without even knowing it.  In addition to construction supervisor licensing, most states now have some type of licensing or registration requirements for contractors who offer and or perform home improvement work.  Home improvement contractor licensing and regulations govern how contractors conduct business, not how they build or renovate at the job site.  Fines and penalties for lack of compliance can be substantial, including losing your right to conduct business.  The specific details of home improvement contractor laws and regulations are different from state to state, so it’s a good idea to make sure you’re aware of and understand requirements where you work. 


What states have Home Improvement Contractor Licensing requirements?

Click here for an interactive map where you can find out.  You or your remodeling customers can also use the map to check to see if a specific contractor is licensed.


Currently there are about 26,000 Registered Home Improvement Contractors in Massachusetts.

Recently the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation ("OCABR") released a series of five short videos to help Massachusetts home improvement contractors become aware of and learn how to comply with the Massachusetts Home Improvement Contractor Registration law.  The videos are well done and are targeted to help Massachusetts contractors, but a lot of the information shared in the videos could also be very helpful for contractors doing businesses in other states as well.  Each video covers a topic that is regulated in some way or another by any state's home improvement regulations.

Home Improvement Contractor Law videos with Shawn McCadden

At about 17 minutes of total time, it’s worth your time to watch all five videos even if your business is not in Massachusetts.  

The first 45 seconds of each video is an introduction and is just about the same, so after watching the first video in full you can probably skip ahead in the other four.


Basic Rules for Home Improvement Contractors:

Video #1:  Registration


Video #2: Contract Content & Payment Terms


Video #3: Advertising & Estimating


Video #4: Performance of the Contract


Video #5: Arbitration & Enforcement


In addition to being an industry representative in the videos, I was also pleased to be able to offer input on the script.  Before, during and after the filming I worked closely with Steven J. Zuilkowski, Hearing Officer for the Office of Consumer Affairs & Business Regulation.  During the filming I also worked with Jacqueline F. Chandler, HIC Program Coordinator.  Both demonstrated they were genuinely interested in helping contractors comply with the regulations and were seeking input to help ensure the videos served the intended purpose.  Recently Steve shared with me that the OCABR now also has a blog were he has written several posts for contractors regarding help interpreting the HIC regulations, check it out here.

I want to thank Barbara Anthony, Undersecretary of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation and the OCABR for doing these videos to help contractors.  It was an honor for me to be asked to participate in the project and I had some fun too!


Steven J. Zuilkowski

       Steven J. Zuilkowski

Jacqueline F. Chandler

    Jacqueline F. Chandler


Barbara Anthony

  Barbara Anthony


Topics: Videos, Legal Related, Contracts, Starting a Business, MA HIC Regulations, Sales Considerations, Marketing Considerations, Business Considerations

Does CNBC News Interview With Deitz Show Media Bias?

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Wed, Dec 19,2012 @ 03:53 PM

Does CNBC News Interview With Dietz Show Media Bias? 

Check out this video of a news interview with Chris Dietz, the contractor who is suing his client, Jane Perez, for defamation related to her Angie's List and Yelp Reviews of Dietz and his business.   Based on the questions they ask him they either:

  • They did not prepare very well
  • They weren't listening to his answers
  • They don't understand why he is doing what he is doing
  • Or, they want to put their own spin on the situation. 

Check it out and let us know what you think.  You'll have to watch a commercial first.


 (Click here to take the quick Dietz Lawsuit Survey)

Click here for updates and information about the Dietz defamation Lawsuit


More possible Meida Bias?  Check the link below out and you decide:

A Woman Is Being Sued For Posting A Negative Review On Yelp

ACLU, Public Citizen to fight lawsuit over negative Yelp review  (Check out my comment, should be the first one, assuming they publish it after reviwing it)


Topics: Videos, Dietz Lawsuit Related, Opinions from Contractors, Opinions from Design/Builders