Shannon Roberts dreamed about having a new master bath in place before her fourth and fifth children were born over the summer, but her dream became a nightmare just months before her trip to the delivery room.
The project started great and finished on time and on budget, but all was not as it seemed.
The shower leaked, the tub's cold water stopped working, fixtures fell off and other problems developed, too. It wasn't what the Roberts expected for the five-figure investment.
"I didn't realize how different it was until it started leaking through my ceiling into my kitchen and that's when you find out that the underneath part was not as pretty as the finished product," Roberts said.
The original contractor told the Roberts the job was out of warranty. Instead of fighting, they hired Jon Guy to fix the problems, and that's when they discovered how little information they received from their first hire.
Angie Hicks, Angie's List Founder said it's important to have open communication with your contractor on any home project.
"One of the key issues that pop up in remodeling projects that go wrong is lack of communication, and sometimes that can be an oversight on the front end. You don't think about making sure you have someone you can communicate with easily, regularly and you can speak your mind, because solving problems early make them a lot smaller problems," Hicks said.
The Roberts family now knows that. They consulted three companies, but didn't do a thorough reference check. Jake Roberts said the choice to go with the lowest bidder became a very expensive lesson.
"You've got to take time to do a little research. It cost us a lot of money," he said.
Hicks said you need to get at least three estimates so you can know if you're paying a fair price, but don't look only at the project cost. Examine all the details and ask questions if you don't understand something. Find out how the contractors' work holds up over time by talking to past clients. Tie payment to progress and hold back at least 10 percent until you're fully satisfied with the work.