Smarter Living: Choosing the right contractor - Alabamas13.com WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

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Smarter Living: Choosing the right contractor

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

No one sets out to hire a bad contractor, but it happens. So what can you do if a contractor takes your money and runs or just fails to show up?

In this edition of "Smarter Living," we'll look at some of your options.

"Even my own sister said, 'Well, you better call a lawyer. This guy, I think he's trying to scam you,'" homeowner James Van Gorder said.

Van Gorder said a company took his money up front to do roof repairs and never came back.

"That was $5,000 that they got from me, but they didn't get that second check, thank god," Van Gorder said.

Whether you neglected to do your research before hiring, or even if you vet every candidate, bad things can still happen.

"No one likes to admit this, but sometimes you have to break up with the contractor," Angie Hicks of Angie's List said. "If you find yourself in a bad situation, it's better to cut your losses. Start over with anew contractor and get it done right."

So what can you do if you become a victim of a bad contractor? One thing you can do is file a complaint with your licensing agency and your state or local contractor's board.

If your contractor was bonded, the bond is a guarantee that the contractor will perform the services outlined in the contract. If they fail to do so, you can report the problem and get compensated.

Another option is to seek legal action through small claims court.

Angie Hicks says to make sure the contractor is licensed and don't hire a contractor based on price alone.

Hicks also suggests that you don't pay anything until you have a contract that spells out the payment structure and never, ever pay the full amount up front.

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