Business Bureau: Contractors Checked Often

According to national tabulations of prepurchase information requests and complaints registered by Better Business Bureaus around the country and Canada, specialty remodelers and contractors were among the ones most frequently checked by consumers.

Better Business Bureaus (BBBs) in the United States and Canada provided nearly 90 million instances of service to consumers and businesses in 2005, a 50 percent increase over the 60 million instances of service provided in 2004.

Data was submitted by all 177 BBB offices in North America. The BBB system includes 130 Better Business Bureaus (116 BBBs in the United States and 14 in Canada) and 47 branches.

Prepurchase Information
Requests for information from consumers and businesses increased to 86 million in 2005, up nearly 52 percent from 56.5 million in 2004. These inquiries included 41.5 million requests for BBB reliability reports on businesses.

The following list details the business categories for which BBBs received the most report requests in 2005:

Top 10 info requests in the U.S. in 2005 No. of BBB reports requested
1. Mortgage Cos. 1,221,616
2. Roofing Contractors 1,053,642
3. Moving Companies 1,007,786
4. Work at Home Advertisers 963,820
5. General Contractors 886,274
6. New Car Dealers 735,891
7. Home Builders 610,548
8. Construction & Remodeling Service 547,926
9. Auto Repair & Service 495,113
10. Swimming Pool 472,202

Contractors Complaints
More than 1.1 million complaints were handled by BBBs in 2005. That total includes 781,455 complaints processed by BBBs during the year; another 261,043 people received complaint counseling or referrals from BBBs.

The following list details the business categories for which BBBs processed the most complaints in 2005:

Top 10 categories ranked by complaints in the U.S. in 2005 No. of complaints processed by U.S. BBBs
1. Cellular Phone Service & Supplies 31,671
2. New Car Dealers 23,572
3. Furniture Stores 14,553
4. Internet Services 14,523
5. General Contractors 12,693
6. Collection Agencies 11,897
7. Banks 11,648
8. Telephone Companies 10,638
9. Credit Card Companies 10,423
10. Auto Repair & Service 10,371

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Green Building
12 Named Winners of NAHB’s Green Building Awards

Green building pioneer Ron Jones of Santa Fe, N.M., was named Builder Advocate of the Year at the 2006 National Green Building Awards last month. The awards were presented during the National Association of Home Builders’ 8th Annual National Green Building Conference in Albuquerque, N.M.

“Ron served as charter chairman of the NAHB Green Building Subcommittee and has worked tirelessly ever since to help bring green building into the mainstream,” said NAHB Green Building Subcommittee chairman Ray Tonjes, a custom home builder in Austin, Texas.

Other awards included:

  • Bill Asdal of Asdal Builders, Chester, N.J., the Remodeler Advocate of the Year
  • Jennifer Languell of Trifect Construction Solutions in Naples, Fla., the Individual Advocate of the Year
  • The Sustainable Building Industry Council of Washington, D.C., the Group Advocate of the Year.
  • Pardee Homes of Los Angeles, the Production Home Builder of the Year.
  • SunTerra Homes of Bend, Ore., the Custom Home Builder of the Year
  • Yavapai College in Chino Valley, Ariz., for its Research House
  • Anderson Sargent Custom Builder, LLC of Waxahachie, Texas, for its Single-Family Concept House
  • Seville Consulting of Decatur, Ga., for the Remodeled Home of the Year
  • Hickok Cole Architects of Washington, D.C., for the Multifamily Home Design of the Year
  • Lakewood Ranch Communities, LLC, of Bradenton, Fla., for the Green Homes Marketing Program of the Year
  • The Wisconsin Environmental Initiative and its Green Built Homes, named Program of the Year.

“As consumers show greater interest in homes that employ energy efficiency, resource conservation and sustainable building, these experts help expand green building from a niche market by giving prominence to housing affordability,” Tonjes said. “What our winners bring to traditional construction is a better knowledge of green building science so that all home builders and home buyers can benefit.”

Building Materials
Composite Lumber Market to Grow Dramatically

Demand for wood-plastic composite and plastic lumber in the United States is forecasted to expand at a double-digit pace through 2009 to $3.8 billion, according to a new study by Freedonia.

Advances will result from increasing market penetration of these alternative building materials, particularly in decking applications, which are expected to account for more than one-third of value demand in 2009. Performance characteristics of these materials, such as high durability and low maintenance requirements, will cause more people to adopt them for their decking projects.

Plastic lumber will benefit from growing use in fencing installations, while wood-plastic composites will achieve rising penetration in newer applications, such as fencing, window and door components and railroad ties. Demand for both composite and plastic lumber will be aided by consumers’ efforts to reduce maintenance associated with construction materials.

Molding and trim was the largest end use for composite and plastic lumber in 2004, at about 45 percent of the total. Through 2009, demand for composite and plastic lumber in molding and trim applications is forecast to rise at a healthy pace to $1.3 billion, almost all of which will be plastic lumber. Gains will be slower than for most composite and plastic lumber applications, a result of the relative maturity of this market, but will be significantly faster than those for wood molding and trim materials.

Among the major product categories, windows and doors applications are anticipated to post the fastest gains through 2009 (albeit from a small base), with demand expected to exceed $200 million. As with other applications, composite window and door components are making inroads against wood, metal and plastic materials because of their lower maintenance requirements and similarities to wood. Other applications such as playground equipment, site and leisure furniture, hot tub cladding, porches and railroad ties will see above-average gains through 2009 as well (from small bases).

Residential building will remain the largest market for composite and plastic lumber over the forecast period. Although prospects for new home construction are expected to weaken through 2009, these materials will achieve growth through increasing market penetration at the expense of traditional materials such as wood and metal. Gains in the much smaller nonresidential building market will be enhanced by an expected recovery in construction activity in the office and commercial segments. In nonbuilding markets, composite and plastic lumber will also see strong growth, bolstered from healthy increases in the construction spending through 2009.

Decking Safety
NADRA Highlights Decking Safety in May

The number of deck failures and resulting injuries is on the rise. Between August 2004 and December 2005, the United States news media reported 225 injuries and one fatality from deck collapses caused by ledger connection failures, says the North American Deck and Railing Association. Next month it will draw awareness to the problem with a consumer media blitz.

“Clearly, something needs to be done to tackle the growing problem of unsafe decks,” said Michael Beaudry of NADRA. “NADRA is taking the first step by launching Deck Safety Month. Each May, we will encourage homeowners to get an annual deck inspection, with the goal of reducing the number of deck injuries suffered each year.”

Although the International Residential Code does not include specific details on how to build a deck, researchers at Virginia Tech University in cooperation with the International Code Council have produced a Manual for the Inspection of Residential Wood Decks and Balconies.

Frank Woeste of Virginia Tech, a deck-safety expert, noted that “no one has an estimate of total deaths and injuries per year because most collapses are never reported in the media. Homeowners need to get involved and interested in their deck’s structural integrity.”

For additional information, or to purchase the inspection manual, visit