Buyer BewareBuyers who are moving forward with remodeling projects are really working hard to save a buck here and there by shopping to get the best deal. Online shopping sites make it easy to find almost any product for the home. Homeowners who are remodeling or building their homes have really gotten into hunting for the BBD (Bigger Better Deal) and are getting four, five, six bids from contractors, negotiating with vendors on cabinets, counter tops, plumbing fixture, appliances and flooring.
Saving money is great and hopefully the wave of the future but sometimes trying to save that buck can turn into losing a lot of bucks and, believe it or not, sometimes even more. Websites that allow sellers to post anything online from a house to a comic book can be great resources when you are looking for something like let’s say, a very high end appliances for that new kitchen remodel. Since I assist homeowners in managing risk during construction, I thought a story that may keep some folks from losing a few thousand dollars would be apropos.
A good friend of mine, who represents a well known high end manufacturer, and I were sharing how some homeowners were shopping for their products in the show room but then looking for those products online in hopes of getting the BBD.
One story evolved around a homeowner renovating his kitchen that wanted a new upper end appliance but didn’t want to pay the sale price listed by the dealer. So the homeowner elected to shop online and located the high-end gas range top he wanted from a gentleman who had it listed on the internet. Well, the transaction went smoothly and the homeowner received his beautiful shiny gas range top, which he bought for 35 percent under the dealer’s price.
The problem came when it was time to install it.  It seems that his nice new range top was for gas alright, LP gas! The homeowner’s contractor recommended he contact the manufacturer and inquire on getting the appliance retrofitted for natural gas.  Imagine how disappointed the homeowner was to discover that his particular appliance could not be retrofitted in the field as they are built for either LP or natural gas in the factory.
As such, this homeowner was stuck with an appliance that he purchased for $3,000 that he couldn’t use. So now he has a kitchen with a hole in the counter top where this great range was supposed to go. What did he do? Went out and bought another range top to finish the project and posted the LP unit on the Internet where hopefully he can sell it to someone else looking for a deal.  BBD or No Deal?
The next experience is one you want to avoid at all cost.  This homeowner, also remodeling his kitchen, goes the same route as the first homeowner but with a different twist. After making his purchase of a new high-end refrigerator for $7,000 (the unit sells for around $15,000 in showrooms) this homeowner was on top of the world. What a BBD! After getting the unit installed the homeowner contacted a local dealer to inquire about his warranty. It seems the icemaker wasn’t working just right. The dealer asks for the serial number off the tag on the unit and homeowner notes – “there is no tag is located anywhere on this appliance.” So the dealer informs him that there is a hidden stamp that reveals the serial number.
While the dealer is online looking up this particular unit, he discovers this appliance is on the list of reported stolen appliances from a builder who has had a series of his homes in a subdivision vandalized. The dealer informs the homeowner that he will look up the information and call him back when he has pulled it together. Imagine the homeowner’s face when the dealer, builder, and police showed up at his doorstep and arrested him for being in possession of stolen goods. His $7,000 refrigerator was confiscated and returned to its rightful owner, the builder. BBD or No Deal?
An item being sold at a discount over the internet may carry no warranty, may be a discontinued item making it difficult to find parts for repairs, may be a stolen item, (property in an empty foreclosed property belongs to the lien holder) or even a re-conditioned item removed from a home in a flood. So next time you are looking for that BBD, make sure you do your homework. Sometimes getting what looks like a BBD is actually no deal at all.
Jesse Morado is CEO of Renovation Coach, Inc. a consulting firm providing pre-construction guidance and risk management for homeowners and business coaching of best practices for contractors.  He is a Certified Remodeler and Certified Aging in Place Specialist and currently serves as NARI Nationals Education Committee Vice Chair.  You may reach him at (404) 729-4969 or at www.renovationcoach.com.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.