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Where's the contractor? Homeowners hit with unfinished projects

Labor shortage, supply issues, overbooking causing headaches
Lumber prices
Posted at 12:26 PM, Jan 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-26 13:47:13-05

CINCINNATI — Many people started home improvement projects during the pandemic.

Supply chain problems, the labor shortage and companies taking on too much work have led to a surge of complaints about unfinished and shoddy jobs in the past year, according to the Better Business Bureau.

Tiffany Rosen of Cincinnati's Westwood neighborhood is among those people. The patio outside her home is a mess.

"It looks really awful, and is already starting to crumble," Rosen said.

Rosen hired a contractor last summer, Merrill Complete Construction of Northern Kentucky, after reading reviews on Facebook.

"He had quite a few finished jobs posted online," Rosen said. "It looked great, and he said all of the right things."

Four months later, her patio remains unfinished.

"I think I am beyond crying now, and I am beyond upset," Rosen said.

The BBB gives Merrill Complete Construction an "F" rating for not responding to five recent complaints from other homeowners with similar stories.

We left two unanswered voice mail messages for the company. The one time someone answered, they hung up when we said we were with WCPO.

Better Business Bureau issues warning to homeowners

There is no shortage of jobs for contractors right now. There is also no shortage of complaints about them at the Better Business Bureau.

The complaints prompted the organization to issue a warning about hiring a contractor last spring.

"There's been a disconnect between the consumer and the contractor on exactly when they can expect supplies again," Don O'Brien of the Better Business Bureau said.

O'Brien said many homeowners don't realize it can now take months for certain supplies to show up, which can stop a project in its tracks.

"Our supply chain, right now, is in disarray" O'Brien said. "The good contractors are making sure that they tell their clients they are waiting on these things, and it's going to be a while before we get them.

"The ones we hear complaints about at the BBB are those contractors who don't have really good communication with their clients. The clients are left to wonder, 'Well, gosh, are they ever going to show up again?'"

What you can do

The BBB suggests anyone hiring a contractor should:

  • Do your research. Check the contractor's reviews at the BBB's website and Google their name for complaints.
  • Ask for references: A reputable contractor should have no problem producing satisfied homeowners who are not friends or relatives.
  • When selecting a contractor, make sure to read the contract thoroughly and be aware of any conditions or "riders" that may raise your final price due to supply issues.

Finally, O'Brien says never to pay 100% upfront.

"Once you do that, there's really no motivation for that contractor to come back," he said.

Tiffany Rosen says her next step may be going to court.

Do your research, so you don't waste your money.


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