Charles Lukens found his Ventnor Heights home water-damaged and in desperate need of remediation following Hurricane Sandy - a common scenario for many homeowners in the area.
"We were fearful that we would not have enough people to do the work that needs to get done and in a timely fashion," Lukens, 68, said of his home that he shares with his wife, Doris.
Lukens, like many others, reached out to a contractor for home-improvement needs. A company that happened to be on his street after the storm made a deal with the couple - a deal that would soon leave them disappointed.
Lukens said he found himself with a vague, confusing contract, with no start or finish and no limitations of consequence, followed by exorbitant costs.
"It would have been better had I not got into the situation to begin with," Lukens said.
But for others facing the same situation, help may be available.
As many people continue to lend their skills during the aftermath of the storm, Linwood laywer Richard King plans to follow suit.
At 4 p.m. Nov. 29, King, who practices commercial, construction and real estate litigation, will present a free seminar, "Home Repair: A Legal Toolkit."
"I had thought about doing it years ago when I saw how it was often ignored or people didn't understand it," King said of typical miscommunications and disagreements that come with home-improvement contracts. "Then it became acute when Superstorm Sandy came and a lot of our (church) members and my friends' homes were destroyed, and I knew they would be hiring contractors. This felt like a good time to educate people on the topic."
King will deliver the seminar at the Margate Community Church at 8900 Ventnor Ave., a where he is a member of the congregation.
He said it felt natural to hold it there because the church had been so much a part of the rebuilding process, with several of its members suffering due to Sandy.
King stressed, however, that the seminar is meant for anyone from Absecon Island or elsewhere who is in need of advice.
Lukens, a member of the church, plans to attend. He admits encouraging King to conduct the presentation, with hopes of helping others.
"I am glad that Richard volunteered to donate his time and effort," Lukens said via phone days before the seminar.
In an hour and a half, King plans to discuss both the Consumer Fraud Act and the Home Improvement Practices Act, which are often overlooked, he said.
"I've represented a bunch of contractors and a bunch of consumers in exactly these kinds of claims, and I've seen maybe not all of the mistakes that have been made, but I've seen most of them at this point," King said.
Both consumers and contractors are invited to attend to learn how to handle disputes and what should be included in contracts, he said.
In King's experience, homeowners tend to file a claim after the contracts have gone bad.
"We are trying to reduce the amount of conflicts ahead of time," he said.
Interested contractors and consumers can reserve a seat at the event by emailing Richard King at email@example.com.
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