Following American Kitchen problems, tips to hire the right contractor

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

BURLINGTON, N.C. -- The State Attorney General's Office continues to investigate the Burlington remodeling company that shut its doors last week.

Dozens of customers in the state tell FOX8 they paid American Kitchen thousands of dollars for kitchen renovations that are not complete.

The state is checking into whether the company simply went out of business or broke the law.

AG Public Information Officer Noelle Talley suggests customers doing home repairs try to pay as little as possible before the work starts.

"We recommend that people not pay more than 10 percent up front."

They also suggest signing a contract that allows the customer to pay as work is completed or finished. "If a contractor claims to need a lot of money up front for supplies and materials, it may be a sign that he has poor credit or is in bad financial shape," according to home repair improvement advice from the Attorney General.

The North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors provides information on their website, too. It advises consumers to get 2-3 estimates for work. They encourage homeowners check their website to make sure workers are properly licensed.

Sears Home Improvement Products Area Production Manager Jason Stutts says it's always helpful to choose a company that's been in business for several years.

"Reputable companies will be up front with you on anything you have questions about. And spell it out in writing. They don't necessarily ask for you to buy that night. That can be an indicator of high pressure," he pointed out. "Also think about- is the company going to be around later when you may need service on down the road?"
Both Stutts and Talley point out, paying with a credit card can offer more fraud protection versus using cash or personal check.

Home repair issues ranked fifth on the Attorney General's list of top consumer complaints last year.

The AG's Office received 1,354 complaints last year about home construction and repair problems, according to Talley. "Consumers complain about shoddy work as well as contractors who abandon the job after getting paid, miss deadlines, or go over budget. There are also scam artists who target homeowners, especially seniors, with expensive and unnecessary repairs."

They have not reported yet the exact number of complaints they've received about American Kitchen.

Complaints can be filed with the Attorney General's Office.

The Better Business Bureau is also encouraging homeowners to file complaints with their organization.

American Kitchen was accredited with the BBB. A spokesperson for the BBB explained they made the company wait three years for accreditation and prove it could handle customer complaints.

The rating and accreditation have been removed, and there is an alert about American Kitchen Corporation on the company's BBB profile.

The BBB says online reviews can be used as a tool but cannot guarantee consumers a company won't go out of business.

Consumers should also check with their banks about getting help recovering funds paid to American Kitchen Corporation if work was unfinished.