Home Posts tagged remodeling

Remodeling Woes

Joshua L. Woods, Esq.


Many of us love watching home renovations on television. Whether the redos are taking place at a beach-house bungalow, a tiny apartment, or a Victorian mansion, it’s always entertaining to live vicariously through people remodeling a house or building their dream home.

But what happens when opportunity knocks in real life, and you have the chance to create a space of your own design? Perhaps you envision a beautiful, blue-tiled backsplash against white kitchen cabinets, heated bathroom floors, or a cozy living room with a gas fireplace. With a reliable and trustworthy contractor, all things are possible.

Unfortunately, not all contractors are reliable and trustworthy. Someone close to me recently experienced firsthand the horrors of hiring the wrong renovation company. My friends lived to tell the tale, but along the way, their family suffered through considerable delays, shoddy work resulting in added expenses and additional repairs, and the all-consuming worry of working with an uncommunicative contractor. Here is the story of a ‘craftsman’ remodeling company whose primary craft proved to be collecting payments for unperformed work.

It all began when my friends, first-time homebuyers, hired a local contracting company to perform a complete restoration and remodel of a charming 1930s colonial-style house. After interviewing five separate contractors, my friends decided to work with ‘Craftsmen’ (the company’s name has been changed to protect their anonymity). The contractor was extremely charismatic, proposed a comparable bid, and seemed to have just the right can-do attitude needed to complete the project. Craftsmen provided three references who, when contacted, sang the company’s praises. Craftsmen also had great online reviews. My friends decided to move forward and agreed to the terms of a proposal from Craftsmen, officially hiring the company for their project.

Joshua L. Woods

Joshua L. Woods

“They had to live through an enormous amount of stress, the upheaval of an unfinished living space, hideously long delays, and considerable additional expenses. You can learn from their mishaps.”

Craftsmen requested a down payment, and upon receiving the funds, the first step of the project — demolition — was scheduled. Pursuant to the payment schedule on the written proposal, the second payment would be due on demolition day, the third would be due when rough plumbing was installed, the fourth upon installation of rough electrical, the fifth upon installation of drywall, and the sixth and final payment would be due when the project was completed.

To their chagrin, my friends soon discovered the problem with this payment schedule: the majority of the fees would be paid prior to the rebuilding. That is, four hefty payments were required before the demolished spaces would be fully rebuilt.

At first, the contractor completed the demo work on schedule, but then they went silent. The house sat in disarray, unfinished, for months after the first payments were made. Nothing was accomplished properly. The plumbing was installed incorrectly, there was an old toilet left in the dining room for months, the trim was unfinished, the hardwood floors were ruined, exposed electrical wires dangled from the walls, and the list went on. My friends finally decided they could no longer tolerate the situation and made the decision to fire Craftsmen.

For anyone considering renovations, keep the following steps in mind, which can help protect you from a similar experience:

• Verify the contractor is in good standing. Ask for the contractor’s business-license number and research it on the state’s website to ensure there are no lawsuits against the company. You should also search the Better Business Bureau for complaints.

• Look into the contractor’s partners and vendors. Request a copy of the business license for all subcontractors who may work on your project.

• Contact references. Before hiring a contractor, always ask for multiple references and contact as many as you can. Listen closely to what they say. When speaking with references, you will certainly wish to inquire about the ‘big stuff,’ including satisfaction with the final project and pricing, but it may also be wise to inquire about smaller details including punctuality, cleanliness on the job site, responsiveness to calls and requests, etc. Looking back, my friend should perhaps have seen a red flag when Craftsmen provided only three references. A reputable company should be able to provide evidence of a great many satisfied customers.

• Have an attorney review the fine print. Another red flag should have been the lack of a formal contract at the outset and the lack of itemized billing during the project. Craftsmen provided only a written proposal, which is not sufficient for a project of this magnitude. When hiring a contractor, be sure to protect yourself by having a qualified attorney review all documents, proposals, and contracts before you sign. All contracts should include a clear payment schedule in which the final payment is typically 25% of the entire fee, provided only upon completion of the project and a satisfactory final walk-through with the contractor. Once hired, all communication should be in writing, and you should request regular written updates from the contractor, so there is a clear understanding of the status of work completed and work to be done.

• Document the process. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and that is certainly true where renovation projects are concerned. Be certain to take many photos of your project, including shots of the site before, during, and after the renovation is complete.

My friend and his family were ultimately able to pivot their renovation to another contractor, who repaired Craftsmen’s mistakes and finished the project. The family is now happily enjoying their beautiful, freshly remodeled home.

If my friends had only done more diligent research and consulted with an attorney before working with Craftsmen, they could have potentially avoided the entire awful experience. Instead, they had to live through an enormous amount of stress, the upheaval of an unfinished living space, hideously long delays, and considerable additional expenses. You can learn from their mishaps and use the steps above as important preventive measures. They may be your — and your house’s — saving grace. v


Attorney Joshua L. Woods is an associate with Bacon Wilson, P.C. and a member of the firm’s business, corporate, and commercial law team. He has extensive experience in matters of business law, including all aspects of corporate formation, franchising, joint ventures, leasing, and business and commercial litigation. He is licensed to practice in both Massachusetts and Connecticut; 413-781-0560; [email protected]

Building Permits

The following building permits were issued during the month of December 2018.


Amherst Shopping Center Associates, LLC
165 University Dr.
$34,020 — Install ductless HVAC system in existing CVS stockroom

D’Angelo Inc.
48 North Pleasant St.
$65,300 — Tenant fit-out for food-service establishments

Granodonico Properties, LLC
25 North Pleasant St.
$37,000 — Remove ceiling and insulation, reinstall blue boards and plaster

Jewish Community of Amherst
742 Main St.
$120,000 — Straighten and re-roof steeple

Mathews Properties
37 South Pleasant St.
$5,000 — Demolish wall between two offices

One East Pleasant St.
1 East Pleasant St.
$5,000 — Limited demolition

Town of Amherst
4 Boltwood Ave.
$10,000 — Town room alteration

Udrive, LLC
40 University Dr.
$551,250 — Core/shell for future restaurant


Chicopee Marketplace Owners, LLC
591F Memorial Dr.
$42,900 — Fit-out existing space for nail salon

G6 Hospitality Property, LLC
36 Johnny Cake Hollow
$30,000 — Remove drywall, repair existing drywall, mold remediation

Dorothy Krawiec
2 Valier Ave.
$25,000 — Add three antennas and replace remote radio heads with new ancillary equipment and cables

Yee Family
705 Memorial Dr.
$110,000 — Complete demolition of former Hu Ke Lau restaurant


Keystone Enterprises
122 Pleasant St.
$352,800 — HVAC work for Insa Easthampton expansion

Keystone Enterprises
122 Pleasant St.
$62,000 — Extend elevator hoistway above roof line, reconstruct level deck landing and exterior elevator lobby

Seachange Endeavors, LLC
117 Pleasant St.
$224,000 — Construct two-story manufactured addition to side of building


443 Shaker Road
$275,000 — Roofing

LG Industries, LLC
194 Pleasant St.
$25,000 — Kitchen and bathroom

Stacy’s Cleaners
55 White St.
$1,200 — Rebuild interior stairs

Ventry Properties, LLC
124 Shaker Road
$165,500 — New commercial building


American Tower Corp.
180 Country Club Road
$13,500 — Install small backup generator for cell tower

Behavioral Health Network
298 Federal St.
$65,000 — Install fire-protection system

Joyce Drake
427 Davis St.
$6,000 — Cut out concrete wall for door, frame two walls to make office, finish and frame for bathroom

Joyce Drake
427 Davis St.
Attach sign to building for Kenney Automotive

First United Methodist Church
25 Church St.
$12,800 — Roofing

Syfeld Greenfield Associates
259 Mohawk Trail
$40,000 — Retrofit sprinkler heads to new ceiling height


The Longmeadow Mall, LP
827 Williams St.
$8,500 — Install ceiling to bring space up to code


34 North Maple St.
$125,000 — Construct cidery

Smith College
44 College Lane
$2,365,000 — Upgrade existing air-handling units and exhaust fan in Sabin-Reed Hall

Smith College
44 Green St.
$16,000 — New transom, built-in bookshelves, minor electric work


125 Paridon Street, LLC
125 Paridon St.
$25,000 — Install three panel antennas, remove three remote radio heads and install six, modify equipment, smokestack installation for AT&T

Springfield College
29 Sheffield St.
$225,000 — Alter space in facilities building for use as a dance classroom

YWCA of Western Massachusetts
1 Clough St.
$5,000 — Convert two existing office rooms into sleeping rooms


73 State St., LLC
59 Interstate Dr.
$32,560 — Replace carpet, ceiling, sink, cabinet, and front door; remove two walls; add additional electrical outlets

Jim Byrne
24 Parkside Ave.
$4,200 — Repair front entry foyer, install new security door, install new siding, install new roof

Dante Club
1198 Memorial Ave.
$38,975 — Roofing

Eastern States Exposition
1305 Memorial Ave.
$25,000 — Install wireless telecommunications equipment for AT&T

Turkmen Kenan
707 Main St.
$4,500 — Roofing

Red’s Towing
1528 Riverdale St.
$32,000 — Roofing

Town of West Springfield
1 Toccoa Lane
$7,500 — Install generator to existing wireless facility

Van Deene Medical Building Partnership
75 Van Deene Ave.
$80,000 — Expand office into adjacent vacant space, add handicap-accessible restroom


Equinox Partners, LLC
183 Main St.
$87,000 — Roofing on clubhouse, remove and rebuild entrance, new pine ceiling in clubhouse, install washable surface in kitchen

Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield
173 Main St.
$14,285 — Roofing

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