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Home remodeling: Get it all in writing

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Tracy Stolz, a 60-year-old technology sales executive, hired a contractor to renovate her kitchen, laundry room and first-floor bathroom in Potomac, Md. Before long, the contractor didn’t show up and subcontractors either did shoddy work. work or seemed directionless. She had expected to go by without a kitchen or laundry room for three months. But it stretched over four months, then five. Eventually, Stolz hired an attorney to negotiate an end to the home renovation contract.

“I was warned that if the contract was not properly terminated, the contractor could place a mechanic’s lien on my property,” she says. Stolz ended up hiring a new remodeling company to finish the job — and paying about $20,000 more than she had planned. In the process, she found out that the first contractor had not paid some subcontractors and had ordered some wrong items – on her dime.