Friday, November 2, 2012

Working on your Home?

You have waited a long time. You worked your way through a recession. Perhaps you have watched your home lose value and slowly regain some it back as our economy has shown signs of improvement. The time has come for you to do some work on your house that has been put off too long.

Renovating the bathrooms and the kitchen in your home can give you some good bang for your buck when it comes to increasing the value of your home. How do we pay for it? One of the best ways is to use your home’s equity to finance that improvement. A Home Equity Line of Credit can be your ticket to a new kitchen. You may be able to deduct the interest on your taxes (check with your tax consultant). 

Here at Meriwest Credit Union, lines up to $250,000 have no application fees nor do they have any third party fees like title costs. Also, interest rates are at their lowest point in years, meaning you can save a lot of money in interest charges. Check our Home Equity Line of Credit Page or contact your local Meriwest Credit Union Financial Services Representative for details. Now let's talk about unlicensed contractors.

Beware of Unlicensed Contractors

It is about this time of year when someone with a pickup truck and a smile may knock on your door, mention something about your house that may need work, and they'll offer to do it at a cost that seems almost too good to be true.

Frequently, they'll tell you they were working in the area anyway, which is part of why the job will be so cheap. But it pays to do a bit of research. Here's why:

Liability. Legitimate businesses carry two kinds of insurance that protects both themselves and you, the customer...
  • Liability insurance. If the contractor or his employees cause damage to your property, or a neighbor's property, they will generally carry insurance or have posted a bond to ensure that they can make good on any damages. Sure, you can file a lawsuit and maybe win a judgment. But having a judgment and collecting on it are two different things. A licensed contractor will generally have enough insurance coverage to ensure you will be made whole in case of any kind of claim.
  • Workers compensation. Unlicensed contractors typically don't provide workers compensation coverage to their workers. Most states require this coverage, which covers any medical costs incurred by workers injured on the job, as well as some disability benefits. If a worker gets injured on the job, and this insurance isn't in place, that worker could sue both the employer and you, the property owner, for damages.
Jail time. It's true: In some jurisdictions, using unlicensed contractors not only jeopardizes your own finances - it's actually a crime.

Scams. Most unlicensed contractors mean to actually do the work. But one common scam goes like this: The scammer will begin work, then asks you for money "to go buy some of the materials they need." Then you give the contractor the money, and you never see them again. Or there may be an injury, for which you as the property owner are expected to provide compensation. The injury could be legit... or it could be part of the scam.

Worse yet, unscrupulous contractors could begin work, tear your roof open, for example, and then demand much more money than agreed upon to close the roof. Had you used a legitimate contractor, you would have recourse to your state licensing boards for unethical work or breaches of contract. Legitimate contractors don't want to lose their license, so they will work very hard to satisfy you as a customer and prevent racking up a track record of complaints.

How to Avoid Them
·        The simplest thing to do is ask for their license number. If they can't give it to you, or claim to be "working under someone else's license," then don't let them touch a thing.
·        Also, ensure the contractor gets a permit for any construction projects or anything that involves digging. Legitimate contractors will normally arrange for the permits themselves.
o       If they ask you to get the permit, consider that a red flag. It may be they are no longer welcome at the permit office - or they don't have the cash to get a permit. Either way, it doesn't bode well. 
·        Ask for references in your area. If the contractor has a good reputation and has provided good value and service to his customers, the contractor will be happy to share his or her references with you. No references? No Job!
·        Don’t forget to check social media like Yelp or traditional rating agencies like the Better Business Bureau. Look for a contractor with good Yelp ratings and no complaints filed at the BBB. That will make your decision a lot easier!

The Bottom Line
Using licensed contractors is a smart move in many ways: It encourages and supports the legitimate, law-abiding businesses in your community. You can generally expect a better quality of work. It encourages employment in your community, as unlicensed contractors are more prone to hire illegal workers. And it protects you against unwanted liability when things don't go as planned. You could be liable if an unlicensed contractor or one of his workers is injured on your property. Licensed, legitimate contractors will have Workman’s Compensation Insurance for him and his crew. In this case, you would not be liable for injuries incurred in the performance of the work on your property. 

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Meriwest Pre-Owned Auto Sale 

November 10-11, 2012

Last Auto Sale of the Year!

Sale Hours:
  • Saturday, November 10: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, November 11: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Meriwest Credit Union
5615 Chesbro Avenue
San Jose, CA 95123

Take Advantage of this Event!

  • Rates as low as 1.24% APR offered to qualified members**
  • Over 200 quality pre-owned vehicles
  • Trade-ins welcome
  • Up to 100% financing available on all vehicles for qualified buyers***
  • Loan officials on-site

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