In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 11, 2007 / 29 Elul, 5767

Do your homework before home repairs

By Vicki Lee Parker

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) So often in this column I have preached due diligence. Before signing any contract, particularly ones involving home improvement and home repair jobs, check out the business or handyman you're considering. Just when I think I dare not go there again, I get an e-mail from Shea Denning and realize that the warning bears repeating.

Denning is an assistant professor of public law and government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Earlier this year, she hired a local building contractor to remodel her basement. He was recommended by an old college friend, so she didn't bother to thoroughly investigate his background. For example, she didn't check to see if his company was licensed with the N.C. Licensing Board for General Contractors. She eventually learned that he wasn't.

"Frankly, I just assumed that he wouldn't be bidding on the job if he didn't have a license," Denning said.

He estimated the job would cost about $60,000 and asked for 40 percent up front.

Denning paid the $24,000 and waited for the work to start. That was May.

She's still waiting.

Denning admits that she should have known better. She wanted to share her story to remind others to do their homework.

The first thing you should know is that there are far more honest building contractors than dishonest ones. And they are willing to provide all the necessary documents, certifications and references that the consumer needs to make a sound business decision.

"If they are not willing to provide references, just dismiss them immediately," said Therese Crahan, executive director of the National Association of Homebuilders.

Terri Pullen, co-owner of Pullen Construction in Raleigh, N.C., said that too often people want the work to begin immediately and they don't take the time to find out who they are working with.

"People have got to slow down," said Pullen. "They just need to do the common sense thing and take the time to go through the references."

So if you are planning to have renovations done to your home, before hiring the contractor:

  • Call your state's licensing board for general contractors to make sure the license is current and there are no complaints against the business.

  • Look up the company with your state's secretary of state office to find out how long the company has been in business. If it has been open for less than a year, be extra cautious about checking references.

  • Get a physical address of the owner, not just a Web address.

  • Check to see if the company is a member of any trade or business organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce.

  • Try to contact suppliers to find out if the company is paying its bills.

  • Drive by previous work sites and check out the contractor's finished work.

  • Negotiate the up-front payment. If a company asks for half, you may counter by offering to pay 25 percent up front and an additional 25 percent once the work starts. This is an important step because it's common for builders to ask for some part of cost up front to avoid taking all the risk. If the company is worried that you might not pay as agreed, you can offer to set up an escrow account to prove you have the money. You could check with a contract lawyer or your bank about setting up a special account for home remodeling.

Certainly, a person can do all of the above and still get taken for a ride. If that happens and you exhaust all your options trying to get a refund, including taking the company to court, you may be able to recoup part of your loss from the General Board of Contractors' Homeowners Recovery Fund. However, you are only eligible to apply to this fund if the contractor is licensed in the state or applied for a building permit for your address.

Because neither of these conditions applied in Denning's case, she didn't qualify for the refund. Don't make her mistake.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Vicki Lee Parker is a columnist for The News & Observer. Comment by clicking here.


To tip or skip it: Gratuity must be earned
Advice is free, if you look
Hire a cleaner who won't clean you out
Teach children smart money tips that will keep them busy all summer long
Warning: Don't trust the ATM
Reasons to beware of ‘We Buy Homes’
Too wise to fall for a scam
Untethering cell phone from carrier
Re-check your credit card rewards
Treasure might be buried in medical bills
Tax-time saving tip: Free filing is available
College money is waiting; don't procrastinate
Extended warranties rarely worthwhile
Too busy for tax planning? It'll cost you

© 2007, The News & Observer Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services