by Steve Gonzalez, C.G.C.

Steve Gonzalez

Steve Gonzalez, C.G.C

Tis the season for families, food, and fun. For crooks, it’s the perfect time of year for scams, pickpockets, and thievery.

It’s also the season for cold weather and the flu and many Americans are preparing their homes for the cold weather ahead. Furnaces, boilers, heaters, and a/c systems are being serviced or repaired. 

Scam: The service guy comes out for a regular check on your system and finds that not only does it need maintenance, but it is in such bad shape, it’ll be cheaper to replace the system with a new “state of the art system” which will last longer than you will. (Or until work slows down again).

Scambuster: Be sure to get a second opinion from another professional without disclosing what the first person’s recommendations were. All estimates should be free and all service companies should provide you with a detailed written estimate with a list of the parts needing replacement. The estimate should show parts and labor charges in detail. Be sure the estimate is on a company letterhead and is signed by the person estimating the project. 
Money: Since a repair takes a few hours or a day, no deposit is required. Don’t let them take the money and run! All repairs should be paid upon completion and when the serviceman shows you the system works without flaws the way it was originally designed.

Scam: You are freezing in the house and you decide you need more adequate insulation, so you flip through the yellow pages and call a local insulation contractor for an estimate. 
After agreeing to a price, the person comes to your house with this impressive looking setup in a stepvan or truck. It has this huge machine that blows insulation through a hose to your attic or crawlspace. The job takes about an hour or two and the person tells you, “I’m finished and I had a little extra on the truck so I pumped it in there for you. I’ll just charge you cost of materials on the extra, but come and see the job! You’ll never have to worry about insulation again!” When you look at what was done you are just amazed at the amount of insulation in that attic and a warmth feeling registers in your brain. Some of you may share that warmth and give the person a cash tip for such a nice and generous job. In reality, the person took you for a major ride! The air mixture in that hose which was transporting the insulation from the hopper on the truck to your attic was so high that the little insulation which made it to your attic was so fluffy that it piled high with the illusion of a job well done. 

Scambuster: You see, the density of the insulation is a lot more important than the volume. The air mixture gives the impression of volume and is impressive to the eye, but the person should provide you with a density test from an independent lab or professional. The other way of getting what you pay for is to count the amount of bags used on your project and read the chart on the back of the bag describing the method and amount of square footage that bag will cover at any given R-Value or thickness in inches. Be aware of the bags in the truck before the job starts because scamsters will carry extra empty bags to show you when finished.

Copyright 2008


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It was refreshing to work with someone who knows so many facets of construction.

Joseph P.
Hollywood, FL

US Green Building Council