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Attorney General Warns Consumers of Unapproved Hurricane Protection for Windows

During the past year the IHPA and its members launched the “Get the
Get The NumberNumber” campaign addressing the dangers of protecting homes with unapproved, untested, or misrepresented products.

The IHPA spent considerable time and effort in gathering and compiling advertising and technical materials demonstrating misleading advertising and unfair or deceptive trade practices regarding the marketing of unapproved products and window film for use as hurricane protection.  Late last year the IHPA Board of Directors, under Tom Johnston’s leadership, submitted the findings to the Florida Attorney General’s Office during meetings and direct correspondence.  Our report  and communications highlighted the tremendous risk of consumers being mislead; thereby creating a recipe for disaster and potential unnecessary loss of property and life. The IHPA Board and its members are pleased that Attorney General Bill McCollum and staff immediately recognized the seriousness of the issue and took direct action to alert consumers to the issue and dangers of using unapproved products for hurricane protection.

An excerpt from the press release reads: Purportedly, some window film companies are also falsely claiming that by purchasing the window film for residential use, the homeowner will be eligible for an insurance discount. In reality, the insurance industry may not recognize this discount because the window film does not meet the standards for use in a residential home.

Recently, the International Window Film Association (IWFA) has began issuing manufacturer and dealer alerts in an effort to make sure companies are adhering to proper business procedures. While most members are following proper advertising and sales practices, some are not. Additionally, not all film manufacturers are part of the IWFA, therefore they are not held to the same standards.

Attorney General McCollum offers the following recommendations to consumers to avoid falling victim to dealers who may be misrepresenting the film’s capabilities:

· Ask to see the product approval and the corresponding number;

· Go to www.floridabuilding.org and/or www.miamidade.gov/buildingcode/ to assure that the number supplied is verifiable;

· Check with your local building department. Most building departments require a permit to install hurricane protection; and

· Report any company that is making fraudulent claims about window film.

Consumers who believe they may be victims of fraud may contact the Attorney General’s fraud hotline at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM (1-866-966-7226) or file an online complaint at http://myfloridalegal.com.

The full press release can be found here.

Cost of Vinyl Replacement Windows

Pensacola windows | windows cost | best windows PensacolaWindow replacement can be an uncomfortable ordeal without adequate research.  Pushy salesmen are numerous on the remodeling scene, so it’s best to have a solid plan of attack before testing the home improvement waters.  Use these tips to get the best windows for your home.

Although a significant expense, vinyl replacement windows compare modestly to the costs associated with custom wood windows.  For a typical window size, window prices can range from $300 to $800 per opening for an Energy Star compliant product.

Prices will obviously vary according to your level of customization.  Do you require double hung windows, which help ease the task of window cleaning?  Or do you live in a coastal area, and are in need of hurricane-rated impact glass?  Decisions such as these can greatly affect your bottom line investment.

Another important point is to determine who is actually performing the window installation.  Does the contractor use employees or subcontractors?  Remember, this is your home – your greatest investment.  Make certain that you are dealing with a contractor who only uses professional employees.  Furthermore, ask to see all pertinent licensing and insurance.

If a contractor is willing to cut corners by not following lawful industry procedures, then what do you think that contractor will do in terms of fulfilling your contract?  Check with your local home builders association and Better Business Bureau as they can be a helpful guide through this vetting process.

The best price is out there, and a little bit of due diligence should reward your efforts nicely.  Good luck!

Need more information?

Get helpful advice by requesting a FREE in-home consultation.  A Majors Home Improvement design consultant will be happy to show you the features and benefits of installing new vinyl replacement windows in your home.

BBB Warns Of Home Improvement Scams

The Better Business Bureaus in the U.S. and Canada are warning homeowners to be on the lookout for home improvement scams. Less-than-reputable or unqualified contractors breeze into town promising a variety of services at cut-rate prices. They may show up at your door, advertise in local papers or deliver fliers to your home.

Complaints to the BBB concern a wide range of problems, including high-pressure sales tactics, confusion over contract terms, poor workmanship, incomplete job performance, over-charging and in some cases, home foreclosures.

“It’s not your lucky day when a contractor shows up on your doorstep offering a too-good-to-be-true deal on a project. The salesperson may claim he has materials left over from a recent job at your neighbor’s house or the ‘house down the street.’ This is a common ploy of fly-by-night contractors who are based out-of-state and use their pick-up trucks as their place of business,” said Steve Cole, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

Complaints against home improvement/home repair contractors are among the most common consumer complaints received by the Better Business Bureau. And there is little wonder, considering how lucrative the business is. Americans spent over $200 billion in 2005 on home remodeling/repair projects, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

“There are thousands of reputable contractors who will deliver quality work, on time and within budget. Consumers can avoid costly mistakes and scams by doing some research before opening their wallets,” said Cole.

Comparing cost before making a financial commitment toward any home improvement project is very important. In doing so, you should solicit at least two or three bids from prospective contractors based on the same building specifications, materials, labor and time needed to complete the project.

The BBB advises homeowners to never let a contractor pressure them into making a snap decision. A reputable professional will recognize that you need time to consider many factors when deciding which contractor to hire.

When looking for a reliable contractor, consumers should employ a contractor with an established business in their area. Ask for testimonials or references and check them out. Look into the contractor’s standard of work and his professional affiliations; verify his insurance; and check to see if he needs to be licensed. Check with the BBB for a report on the contractor.

Do not permit work to start without a signed written contract that includes all verbal promises that were made by the contractor. Be sure that the written contract includes a start and completion date, a breakdown of the cost and information about the contractor, including license number, street address and phone number.

If you need financing for your project, it may not be wise to agree to financing through your contractor or someone he suggests. “Consumers complain that they were pressured to sign a lot of papers and only later found out they had agreed to a home equity loan with a very high rate, points and fees. Carefully read every document before you give your consent. You can usually get a better deal on financing by shopping around on your own and comparing loan terms from several lenders,” Cole added.

If you are asked to pay for the entire job up-front, this should raise a red flag. Arrange for payments to be made as parts of the job are completed. Final payment should not be due until the job is done. And, homeowners should pay by check or credit card, never cash.