AUSTIN (KXAN) - The fall season is a popular time for people to take on home remodeling projects. But when it comes to hiring a contractor to get the job done, there are a lot of ways homeowners can lose money.
Cory Blum's kitchen remodel did not turn out the way she wanted.
"Because I bake and cook a lot, I wanted to have a concrete, one-piece countertop," Blum explained. "But as you can see, it's two pieces and it doesn't really fit together, and it gets dirt down there a lot."
She found more problems: a big crack where water can seep, a sprayer hose that's too short and her dishwasher tips forward because it's not connected to the counter.
"I contacted him and said, 'This is totally unsatisfactory, this needs to be redone, this is not what I want,'' Blum said. "And he said, 'Well, I'll have to find some people to come and take it out,' and never did."
She hired the contractor to do her kitchen in the summer of 2009 after he did good work on a pergola behind her home. But even that's unfinished. He said he would come back to stain and seal the wood.
"He asked for money in advance for that, so he could feed his kids, and I'm still waiting. That's what hasn't been done on this contract," Blum said.
Blum had a written contract, but said she paid too much up front -- 50 percent. She's out nearly $2,000.
"In terms of what a consumer should pay up front, really, it depends on the size of the job. Typically 10 to 15 percent is a safe number," said Erin Dufner, Better Business Bureau of Austin . "So really getting everything in writing and making sure that you both agree on the contract price, the contract timeline and the contract materials is the best way to protect yourself."
After months of trying to negotiate Blum filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. The contractor never responded.
Blum saids she's moving on.
"I'm not a wealthy woman, don't have a ton of extra money about it, but it doesn't help to get angry," Blum said.
Paying with a credit card can also give consumers extra protection. The way the rules work, you're only on the hook for the first $50 if the work isn't done. However, most credit card companies do have time limits for people to file a dispute.
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