Home » Blog » Learning from the Mistakes of Others

Learning from the Mistakes of Others

June 15, 2018
Hiring a contractor who isn't licensed and insured, with strong positive references, is a mistake ElderMove Alliance wants to help you avoid.

If you have attended one of the seminars we’ve held in senior centers around the region, you were probably trying to learn the easy way to downsize. Learning from other people’s mistakes can be much easier than making your own mistakes! So perhaps you’ll enjoy (or cringe) when reading about what other seniors have done.

In another article, we talked about the problem of private sales, and that buyers who look for unlisted homes to purchase are looking for a great deal for themselves, but not for you, the seller.

Preparing to Sell a Home

Another mistake arose when home sellers, Rhett and Scarlett*, hired the wrong person to do repairs to their home prior to selling. They hoped to do a favor for a friend’s son, and to save a little money, but ended up spending much more. The young man they hired was unlicensed and had no insurance, but they thought he was competent. They paid him in full for the job at the start. He started working on their home in December 2017, with a March 2018 deadline. When they went to the house to check progress in March, he wasn’t even close to finishing. 

The Wrong Contractor

To make matters worse, the unlicensed contractor said he needed more money to complete the job. When they asked him to leave, he decided to remove anything he had worked on, so now the house is missing all the doors and trim, and all the walls need to be retextured and painted properly. The hardwood floors have not been touched, but are covered in drywall dust and paint splotches, and the new floor in the basement is not complete. 

Rhett and Scarlett had to get the police to get him out of the house. They considered suing the young man, but he is untouchable, as he has no money. 

The problem for Rhett and Scarlett was that they hired someone who is not licensed, bonded or insured, to do a big job. They didn’t check references, because they thought they knew him. And now they have to pay for all the work, all over again. It will be more expensive to redo all the things he did incorrectly than it would have been to have it done properly the first time. Their choice now is to either come up with the money to get the work done or to list the house as a fixer and make much less on the sale. 

References, License & Insurance

Clearly, the lesson here is to hire people who have experience and references and who are licensed with the State of Washington. You can look up information on hiring contractors at the Washington state LNI website. At this site, you can see if any complaints are outstanding against your contractor. Or you can call me for suggestions on good people for different jobs!

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Mindy Garner is an expert in senior real estate

Mindy Garner, SRES

Coldwell Banker Bain, Managing Broker