Deb's Lake Conroe Real Estate & Stuff! : The House that Jack Built...

The House that Jack Built...

When you have a home built or are dealing with CONTRACTORS...Under Construction

Or, cleaning up after a storm....

Getting a JACK OF ALL TRADES can be devastating. With so many "iffy" contractors pouring in to help clean up after IKE, we must all be very, very careful.

1. Interview a minimum of three licensed contractors.

2. Get everything in writing.

3. Remember the specifics like quality of tile and paint.construction_guys.jpg image by contractornet

4. Require them to provide you with a copy of their license.

5. Check references.

6. Agree on the time-line  in writing.

7. Agree to a maximum of 10% overage.

8. Make sure the contractor will oversee the workers.

9. If you are living in the property place all valuables in the bank.

10. Plan to spend time watching the men too. If they dawdle you're paying for it.

11. Plan for rain days or sick days for the men.

12. Never, ever, give them money up front. A good contractor has credit.

13. Require all clean up be mandatory each day. Don't allow them to leave garbage.

14. Require your contractor be responsible for disposing of any debris.

15. Make sure to pick up any left behind nails.

16. Verify quality of all products as they come in. Windows, paint, tile and so forth.

17. Make sure all warranties are turned in with each product. Ceiling fans, appliances etc.

18. If there is major work like tearing out walls or using glue, plan to stay somewhere else.

19. Be prepared for a little just is.

20. Hire a licensed inspector to review all work before work is totally complete.

21. Never hand over the final check with work still needing to be done. EVER...they won't be back.

Be very sure of the contractor you hire...don't get in a hurry. It could get worse!

Later in the rain~Deb


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Comment balloon 63 commentsDeb Brooks • September 27 2008 10:02PM



They should take your advice and nail it to every door of every damaged home.

Posted by Mike (Inspector Mike) Parks, Inspector Mike (Inspector Mike) over 11 years ago

Deb, this is the perfect topic for you to give everyone an overview on with you having survived Ike. Great stuff.

Posted by Gary Woltal, Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth (Keller Williams Realty) over 11 years ago

Deb, In Connecticut, there are certain requirements, aside from a state license, that must be in the builder or remodelers contract with the consumer.  Saves lots of heartache.  Nice post, with good tips for the consumer.

It's a Good Life!


Posted by Frances C. Rokicki, Broker-Mentor,CRS (Fran Rokicki Realty, LLC) over 11 years ago

Terrific summary Deb - I just sent it to a friend of mine that is going through that right now!  You don't do reblogging either?  Either do I - wondering if i should though?t

Posted by Liz Moras Migic, Chilliwack, British Columbia - Realtor over 11 years ago

Good tips Debra.  My thoughts and prayers are with all of you who sustained such terrible losses from Hurricane Ike.  Best of luck with everything.

Posted by Cheryl Powell - The Powell Team, Concord,Harrisburg & Charlotte NC Area Real Estate (Southern Homes of The Carolinas - The Powell Team) over 11 years ago

I have a wonderful "HANDYMAN" company in my area.  They can do just about anything.  They are priced very reasonably and do fabulous, quick work.


Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 11 years ago

This is great advice Deb!  I have heard so many horror stories! 

Posted by Cristal Drake, Realtor - Fullerton Real Estate (Prudential California Realty) over 11 years ago

Hi Deb,

Very timely topic. I hope many read it and take your advice. To do otherwise could be very costly.

Posted by Harold "Hal" Place (A1 Connection Realty, Inc.) over 11 years ago

Debra, We have contractor signs all over our subdivision.  So many of them have out of state phone numbers. We need to get a quote for our neighbors tree as it is a lease house and I'm reluctant to use someone in another state but it is hard to find any with local phone numbers.

Posted by Marchel Peterson, Spring TX Real Estate E-Pro (Results Realty) over 11 years ago

Debra this is a valuable reminder to so many who need it done NOW... just never make decisions too hasty and regret it for decades.

Posted by South Austin Real Estate Blog (Sky Realty South Austin) over 11 years ago

Great advice Deb!  Number 11 could probably be expanded to include fishing days, hunting days, drinking days, sleeping days, day after payday days,....



Posted by Erik Hitzelberger, Louisville - Middletown Real Estate (RE/MAX Alliance - Louisville REALTOR-Luxury Homes) over 11 years ago

And prayer never hurts either because it seems that something always goes wrong.

Posted by Susan Hilton, Texas Aggie Real Estate, College Station Bryan Texas Real Estate (CENTURY 21 Beal, Inc.) over 11 years ago

I'm so tickled to see this become a feature. I hope everyone takes heed in this advice. I can honestly admit that I have learned each and every one of those points first hand...

from handing an up front check to a young man that never came back to handing a "completed balance" check to a man who was still going to mount the ceiling fact, it was the kid that ran away with that check! OMG, if there is a mistake that could be made I did it.

I am currently trying to avoid any remodeling if at all possible. It's just not a very clear field and you and I as non-contractors have no idea what they go through either...

Stop, think and do it right. I thought I did and I've almost lost the farm!

Later in the rainL~Deb

Posted by Deb Brooks (Brooks Prime Properties Wichita Falls Texas) over 11 years ago

Mike, yes, it becomes a nightmare so often. Buyer beware!

Gary, Yes, it's timely. I almost bought a home that needs remodeled and I've talked myself out of it.

Frances, it's a wonderful life. If I can teach one person not to get burned then my mistakes are worth it.

Liz, I am allowing a reblog my dear...does it not show it? Are you reblogging? I think it's a really cool tool and we can all use it. There are a couple of yours I would love to use.

Later in the rain~Deb

Posted by Deb Brooks (Brooks Prime Properties Wichita Falls Texas) over 11 years ago

Cheryl, thank you my dear. Hubby and I were really the lucky ones. Our damage was minimal comparitively speaking to many others. I do appreciate your good wishes.

Lenn, You are one of the lucky ones. Boy oh boy, you may not realize just how lucky! Don't let them get away.

Cristal, I could tell you quite a few myself!

Harold, yes, it usually is. I know for me it has been.

Marchy, be very wary of those people. I understand that many out of staters are vulturing in to "help" with the clean up. Be careful. BTW, see you at baREcamp in October...

Gail. yeah. don't do like I did.


Posted by Deb Brooks (Brooks Prime Properties Wichita Falls Texas) over 11 years ago

Erik, LOL and thanks I loved that. You sure got my point! It's a definite "Monday I've got a headache" business...I want to say thank you again for the wonderful caring phone call you gave me during IKE. I regret that I didn't get to visit with you but I will call you soon. Your voice of concern made me feel very warm and as if I truly had a friend.

I consider you my friend Erik. We will meet up someday. Later in the rain~Deb

Posted by Deb Brooks (Brooks Prime Properties Wichita Falls Texas) over 11 years ago

Hi Hon,

Now I see why you would rather get a house that doesn't need too much work that we can't do ourselves. I get it. 

Congratulations on the Feature. It's very good advice. Love U -S

Posted by Debra and Scott Brooks, Lake Conroe Real Estate and Luxury Home Specialists! (Brooks Prime Properties, Lake Conroe) over 11 years ago

Deb, You're welcome and I hope that we can meet one day.  BTW, I like your new pic. 

Posted by Erik Hitzelberger, Louisville - Middletown Real Estate (RE/MAX Alliance - Louisville REALTOR-Luxury Homes) over 11 years ago

Deb, and make sure you visit your family doctor for some really good drugs, because you'll go nuts even with good contractors.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (Redfin) over 11 years ago

David, just remember that you need to do EVERYTHING the list mentions and more. Be careful. I cannot even begin to tell you how bad it can get.

Susan, amen.

Scott darling...yep. Remember? Love u 2.

Erik, thank you. It was taken at Jason Crouch's birthday party this summer! Liz Carter took it. We have such fun getting together!

Later in the rain~Deb

Posted by Deb Brooks (Brooks Prime Properties Wichita Falls Texas) over 11 years ago

These are all GREAT suggestions when hiring a contractor.  Hope the Ike cleanup is going alright!

Posted by Emily Lowe, Nashville TN Realtor (The Lipman Group | Sotheby's International Realty) over 11 years ago

Patricia!!!!!!!! Why didn't I think of that? Drugs...yes ma'am. Very much needed. LOL.

Emily, the Ike clean up is going fine. Slowly but surely. Thank you so much for asking!

Later in the rain~Deb

Posted by Deb Brooks (Brooks Prime Properties Wichita Falls Texas) over 11 years ago

Good blog.  Since many people can't afford to sell and move they may be adding on to their current residence, and they need to do their homework!

Posted by Jean Groesbeck, Broker, CRS, e-PRO, ABR, ASP, CNE, IMS (Compass) over 11 years ago

I would only disagree with one point. Before I got into this business 19 yrs ago, I was a licensed contractor. I agree with all points and in Md most of them are law. I am still in contact and friends with many of my past customers. The point of disagreement I have is money up front. I could carry the job but it's like a contract deposit. Would you, as a listing agent, accept a contract on your listing without a deposit? It's the same way for contractors. I wanted something to show they were serious. I got burned by a few homeowners too. The argument could be made that they have a home and you could sue them. In order to sue someone in Md for not paying for the work done the process is so cumbersome that, unless it's a very large amount it's more trouble and money than it's worth. Both parties should have a little skin in the game. Md law is very protective of the customer. That's a good thing. I wanted a little protection or commitment from the homeowner. Other than that your advice is great.

Posted by Larry Riggs, GRI, SRS Your Frederick County Specialist (Century 21 Redwood) over 11 years ago

Hi Deb,

Thanks for sharing this information. We in Florida have been through this so many times and now how very strict local and state laws. Their are special reporting stations in times of crisis to deal with unethical people posing as contractors and special penalties come into play. We empathize with all our friends in Texas and send our support and offer prayers that life will soon return to normal (although for many it will seem like forever.) Thanks for sharing and bringing awareness.

Realtor Greg Gorman & Realtor David Burke Present Naples Florida Real Estate 

Posted by Greg Gorman, Naples Florida Real Estate (John R Wood Properties) over 11 years ago

Deb...Great post, and a lot of useful information.  You should have this in a brochure, for clients and prospective clients.  Congratulations on the *feature* blog. 

valerie osterhoudt

Posted by Valerie Osterhoudt, ABR, Cromwell, CT Real Estate ~ 860.883.8889 (Johnson Real Estate, Inc.) over 11 years ago

Deb, this is great advice for everyone, not just people who went through IKE. Never, ever pay the contractor until the work is done to your satisfaction.

When we first built our home, the landscaper didn't get the grass in in time for winter. So a knock comes on my door, a subpoena to appear in small claims court. I was devistated, and asked the court deliverer what should I do, he said take photos, it is obvious you have no grass.

So we did, the judge looked at the photos and said, "I don't blame them for not paying the last payment, they have no grass, go seed it in the Spring and then you will get paid."

Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) over 11 years ago

Deb.  I've been involved with new construction, renovation, etc. for many years.  I could probably add another 25 warnings to your list.  Of course, I won't. 

All I can ad is for folks to prepare, prepare, prepare.  Expect the unexpected. 

Finding good craftsmen is very, very difficult.  When you get someone good, treasure them. 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 11 years ago

I recently had a listing where the folks got burned by the craftmanship of some of the workers at their home.  They finally sorted it all out but it was stressful to say the least.  Great post---hope people take it to heart.

Posted by Diane Bell, Hilton Head Real Estate, Bluffton (Charter 1 Real Estate, Hilton Head, Bluffton, SC) over 11 years ago

Thanks Deb, this is good advice. I agree with Lenn -  Prepare  and expect the unexpected.

Posted by Eunice Waller, Working Together, We Can Do Great Things (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Simpson Realtors) over 11 years ago

Deb This is very good advice. I spent 16 years in construction before I started my real estate career and you have to get CURRENT references as well as be able to follow up all the way through. I have seen more DAMAGE done with a hammer and a poorly trained employee than I care to admit. Great post!

Posted by Russell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI (Realty Austin, Austin Texas Real Estate) over 11 years ago

Jean, That's what we did and we have learned everything the hard way.

Larry, Then maybe the money should be escrowed as ours is. If they don't do the work the money could be returned as if not being able to buy the house??? I know what you are saying but I've been burned over and over. Texas law does very little to protect us here.

Greg, you are lucky to have the laws to protect you! Here you would have to go to civil court and then nothing gets done. A bad debt in Texas is looked at like a speeding ticket...if that.

Thanks for reading and I love the input.

Later in the rain~Deb


Posted by Deb Brooks (Brooks Prime Properties Wichita Falls Texas) over 11 years ago

Valerie, thank you. Good idea about including this with an info pkg...

Missy, Good for you and that judge. I wouldn't do it either. Not without my grass!

Lenn, Love them and don't let them get away. If I could just find one single contractor to love...

Later in the rain~Deb

Posted by Deb Brooks (Brooks Prime Properties Wichita Falls Texas) over 11 years ago

Eunice, yes. And no matter how prepared you get expect the unexpected.

Russell, Current is right! And, I would want to talk to the individual. Not just accept a letter. My problem has been that I got so excited about having someone to show up I just gave them the job! At this point I'm ready to paint it myself..and learn tile work...and become a roofer...LOL.

Later in the rain~Deb

Posted by Deb Brooks (Brooks Prime Properties Wichita Falls Texas) over 11 years ago

Really sound advice ~

Posted by Rick Borden over 11 years ago

Terrific post, Deb! Such good advice for agents and consumers alike. I know here in California the use of licensed contractors is prevalent, unlike in my previous market area in Florida.

Posted by Vickie Nagy, Vickie Jean the Palm Springs Condo Queen (Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate) over 11 years ago

 hi Deb in the Rain, gawd this advice is so on the money. As someone who has used contractors for many  renovations at my condo I wish I didn't have to learn things the hard way. Seems to be a pattern for me. :-(

Posted by marti garaughty, a highly caffeinated creative type... ( over 11 years ago

Good post Deb-# 10 strikes me as one of your most important tips. Micro-managing is critical if at all possible for the consumer. A lot of contractors and their crew don't like it when the owner hangs around but a good contractor knows it comes with the territory. Here in Hawaii things can really slow down. Between shipping delays and absences due to good surf, jobs get frustratingly behind schedule.



Posted by JWB at Clark Realty Corporation-Kona Branch over 11 years ago


Great piece here. I'm a firm believer of using licensed, bonded contractors.  I've learned my lesson, dealing with shade-tree, mr. more!!  This is a good, informative post for those seeking to know more about contractors. BRAVO!

Posted by Yvette Smith, Realtor In Williamsburg VA, Homes for Sale (LONG & FOSTER) over 11 years ago

The big item on the list was being prepared for a bit of trauma.  Every build job will have trauma.....In 26 years I have never had a build job without trauma.  I call them hick ups and for clients to expect hick ups in every phase of constructions.  It will happen.  Wants they hear this they are prepared for the hick ups and they do not get as upset.

Even the best of the best contractors, disaster can happen.  Be there for your client very closely or you may be part of a lawsuit with the builder........

Posted by TIM MONCRIEF, Over 2,000 homes sold….. (Tim Monciref) over 11 years ago


     In Md contractors are required to have a completion bond. If they don't finish the work the state can have someone finish it and charge the contractors bond. Maybe Texas needs to have a similar law to protect the consumer

Posted by Larry Riggs, GRI, SRS Your Frederick County Specialist (Century 21 Redwood) over 11 years ago

A great list.  Most of all never, never pay in full until everything is complete

Posted by Russ Ravary ~ Metro Detroit Realtor call (248) 310-6239, Michigan homes for sale ~ (Real Estate One) over 11 years ago

Rick, it's like Lenn said...there are many more things I didn't list! Thank you.

Vicki, thank you and I wish Texas would tighten its laws concerning contractors...really.

marti, so you're like me and you've learned it all the hard way! That's about how I always learn things!

JWB, yep. I've seen them turn a three hour job into a three day job...right under my nose! I know I was paying for it in the end!

Later in the rain~Deb

Posted by Deb Brooks (Brooks Prime Properties Wichita Falls Texas) over 11 years ago


Thank you. I am trying to save others from going through what I had to go through. It was a nightmare and took years off my life! Deb :-)

Posted by Deb Brooks (Brooks Prime Properties Wichita Falls Texas) over 11 years ago

Tim, you're not kidding. I meant it when I said trauma. It is one of the most nerve wracking things to go through. I would say it's on the list of the top 5!

Larry, that sounds like a brilliant idea. I have been left with ropes hanging instead of strings...

Russ, Missy played it really cool about that problem. I wish I had...

Later in the rain~Deb

Posted by Deb Brooks (Brooks Prime Properties Wichita Falls Texas) over 11 years ago

I have several friends that are contractors of varying types.  The best ones I know have something in common... they know what they know.  Use people that know what they know.  People that don't know what they don't know do stupid things. 

Posted by Lane Bailey, Realtor & Car Guy (Century 21 Results Realty) over 11 years ago

Good point LANE. That's what we're missing here that's for sure. If I could find one that "knows" I would keep him! Thanks,

Later in the rain~Deb

Posted by Deb Brooks (Brooks Prime Properties Wichita Falls Texas) over 11 years ago

Very worthy of the gold star Deb! This is an excellent list, but I would expect nothing less from you!

Posted by Simon Conway (Orlando Area Real Estate Services) over 11 years ago

Deb- Having had major work done in my home....I can attest to the wisdom of your warnings/advice here :)  Long live the Handiman LOL :)

Posted by Kathy McGraw, Riverside County CA Real Estate (CELLing Realty) over 11 years ago

Simon, you charmer! Thank you for the compliment my friend! I just don't want to see others get into the same type of fixes I've gotten into...and that would be several. Thank you, dear

Later in the rain~Deb

Posted by Deb Brooks (Brooks Prime Properties Wichita Falls Texas) over 11 years ago

Kathy, Long live the Handiman LOL :)...if I could just find one! LOL. Deb

Posted by Deb Brooks (Brooks Prime Properties Wichita Falls Texas) over 11 years ago


Nice post. Thank for you comment on my blog. Hope all is well with you. Have a great week.

Posted by Alan Kirkpatrick, Alan in Austin (Austin Texas Homes) over 11 years ago

Check that the contractor's license is in good standing, make sure they have insurance, get copies of receipts for all materials purchased for the job and then check to make sure those items came in and anything not used on the job is either refunded or in the case of things like tile, left with the homeowner for future fixes if needed. ~ Evelyn

Posted by Evelyn Panning (Property Connections Realty Inc.) over 11 years ago

Evelyn, exactly. Perfect. Ditto. Yep. Thanks, Deb

Posted by Deb Brooks (Brooks Prime Properties Wichita Falls Texas) over 11 years ago

Debra, if you know any fellow Realtors that need help please make sure they get hold of your Disaster Relief fund here is some info from my blog.

Florida Realtors to help Texas Realtors

Having just returned from the Florida Realtors® Association convention the show of support for our Texas neighbors so many pitched in to help our fellow Realtors. My board Realtors® Association of the Palm Beaches pledged $5000 to the fund to help those who need it.

Florida Realtors® have extended a generous helping hand to Realtors whose homes or businesses were damaged by Hurricane Ike by pledging $50,000 from the FAR Disaster Relief Fund (DRF).
"The fund is for natural disaster assistance, whether here in Florida or in other states," says Todd Dantzler, 2008 DRF chairman. "We hope and pray that we're not needed, but if so, we are there to help our Realtor family, and we take our responsibilities very seriously."

The fund was set up as a trust in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, with the primary purpose of assisting members of the Realtor family who are victims of officially declared natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes and more. In 2004, when an unprecedented four hurricanes touched down in Florida within six weeks, the DRF received more than $2 million in donations. Funds can be used to assist Realtors, including their real estate employees, Realtor board/associations and their staff, in the event of devastation caused by a hurricane, tornado or other natural disaster.

And to further assist hurricane victims, the FAR Board of Directors last week requested that Florida Realtors remember to add rental listings to their MLS systems to bolster the options for those who might need temporary relocation housing.   

"Meeting short-term and long-term relocation needs are critical immediately after a disaster," says Dantzler. "Floridians have known the devastating effects of hurricanes, and we want to help."

Posted by Donald Urschalitz, P.A. Realtor ABR RSPS North Palm Beach County (Lubeck Realty Group) over 11 years ago

Donald, my heart just melted. I cannot even begin to tell you how much this means! I remember 2004. My son was in a Hotel at the beach in Daytona hiding in a corner so flying debris wouldn't hit him. I traveled from Destin to Daytona after the last of the hurricanes and couldn't believe the devestation!

I can honestly say that we were very lucky and the one area we received damage I believe a claim will cover it. If I hear of anyone I will contact you, my friend. This just goes to show the love of fellow man that still exists in this upside down world.

If I can do anything to help please let me know. I would be honored.

Later in the rain~Deb

Posted by Deb Brooks (Brooks Prime Properties Wichita Falls Texas) over 11 years ago

You are one smart lady and this is some excellent advise. I am certain the scam artists will be out in force taking advantage. Our Local BBB does a pretty good job in our area of alerting us when they are in town.

Posted by Trey Thurmond, College Station , Texas Homes (BCR Realtors) over 11 years ago

Thanks Deb.  We are in a border community on the Washington State side.  Often an Oregon contractor will cross the River to do a job in Washington and not be aware of the rules that may be different here.  If the job is not done correctly, there can be a lot of hassle in curing the resulting mess.  John

Posted by Alexander- Slocum, Realty Team- Vancouver WA Real Estate (Premiere Property Group, LLC - Vancouver Washington) over 11 years ago

Trey, I've learned the hard way so I'm not sure if that makes me very smart...hummm...don't think about that too hard! :-)

Later in the rain~Deb

Posted by Deb Brooks (Brooks Prime Properties Wichita Falls Texas) over 11 years ago

Very nice,  love the information.  Something we should all think about.  Thanks for the post.

Posted by Jeff Rogers (retired) over 11 years ago

The title got my attention, But it was all good advice. I will re post on my blog site " You Blog" I cant wait to pass the info along, Thanks.

Posted by Lisa Long (Heather Roda Broker) over 11 years ago

Hello Deb, I sub contract my home from the ground up.  I was there every day with each contractor, to make sure that they were doing their jobs before I would go to work.  I purchased lunch almost every day for the works and they loved was done on time with full belly's and all code inspectors never red flagged not one item..............we were very lucky. 

On my home I own know, I removed all cedar siding, purchased all of the vinyl siding and everything to go along with the refacing of my home.  Again I feed the contractors help every day and they did a wonderful job, and my contract was happy because he has received business because of the work that was done beautiful on my home.

Posted by Julie Staradumsky, CREN (Keller Williams Realty - Atlantic Shore) over 11 years ago

Julie, my dear, you are a special one! Yes, they do appreciate someone being there to watch over them, appreciate them and always to feed them! You have a very level head on your shoulders and would make an incredible business owner/contractor yourself...thanks for the great advice.

Later in the rain~Deb

Posted by Deb Brooks (Brooks Prime Properties Wichita Falls Texas) over 11 years ago