Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Beware of bad contractors

This is the time of year when many people get taken by bad contractors. Beware of those contractors who go door to door saying that they are doing a job up the street and would like to give you a quote. Good contractors are booked up many weeks in advance and don't need to go door to door.
Read your financing agreements carefully, often you end up taking out a home equity loan to finance an improvement or a new roof. Failure to pay the loan due to poor work may result in you losing your home. Don't pay the contractor in full until the job is done and has passed inspection (if required). It is not likely that they will return to fix their work once they have been paid. Get a contract in writing so that you have something to present to the judge if you have to go to court as a result of poor workmanship.
Permits are required for any work that could affect health and safety. Gas and electrical work generally will require a permit including replacing water heaters and furnaces. Any changes or additions that affect structure or that will support the weight of people (i.e. Decks, room additions, stairs etc.) may require a permit. Roofing only requires a permit if the wood decking is being replaced or added.
You can apply for some permits through the City of Dayton web site at http://www.ci.dayton.oh.us/

Are You Master of Your Domain?

Not according to the United States Supreme Court! On June 23, 2005 they ruled that local governments could seize people's homes and businesses against their will for private development.
As a result, cities now have wide power to bulldoze residences for projects such as shopping malls and hotel complexes in order to generate tax revenue.
At issue was the scope of the Fifth Amendment, which allows governments to take private property through eminent domain if the land is for "public use." Property owners must receive "just compensation" for the property though. It can not just be taken.
This is a scary thought. It means that "Big Box Retailers" like Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot and the like can possibly develop privately owned land in inner cities because it will provide jobs and generate tax revenue for the city regardless of who owns the land. At a time when money in our City's treasury is at an all time low this may look like a good option for those in charge.
If I remember my history, we fought a war against an English King to stop things like this from ever happening again. I hope our city leaders remember their history when this opportunity comes knocking!