• Filing a Consumer Complaint

  • Purpose

    The Dispute Resolution process of the Home Builders Association is a service available to the Association members to aid in resolving disputes with their customers. This service is provided by the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The program is designed to aid in communication and to resolve conflicts satisfactorily without the time and expense of going to court.


    If you have a complaint, get in touch with your local BBB and briefly outline the problem or use the online complaint system. Your BBB contact will tell you what you need to do next.

    If you have not contacted the business directly, your local BBB will encourage you to call the business first to discuss the problem, but it is not required that you work with the business before filing your complaint. Your local BBB may have the name and number of a person at the business for you to contact.

    I. Conciliation

    In conciliation, BBB staff will work with the business and customer to encourage communication and assist in settling the problem. BBB staff can present the customer's views to the business and offer the business's viewpoint to the customer in an impartial way. Conciliation frequently settles the matter simply and quickly.
    Neither the HBA nor the BBB will take sides in any issue, but merely serves as a conduit for communication.  If conciliation, satisfactory to both sides, is not possible, either of the following advanced procedures is available through the BBB Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) staff.

    II. Mediation

    If conciliation does not solve the problem, mediation may be the next step. In mediation, an impartial third party - the mediator - clarifies and reframes problems and helps the two sides talk with each other and discuss solutions. The mediator does not decide the merits of either party's claim.  The mediator's goal is to identify the interests of each party and work with them to arrive at a win-win solution.

    If both sides agree to mediate their dispute, BBB gives them an explanation of the basic rules of mediation and asks each party to sign an Agreement to Mediate.

    This agreement states that each party is entering mediation voluntarily and will make a sincere effort to resolve the dispute. It identifies the role the mediator will play and the obligations of the disputing parties.

    BBB will schedule a confidential mediation session and will let you know how to prepare for that session.

    The mediator will be a trained professional, either a BBB staff person or a volunteer from the community.

    The mediator will not decide who is right or wrong. Instead, he or she will create an environment that will help both you and the other party clarify the issues, understand each other's underlying interests and help you discover possible options to settle the dispute.

    If you do reach a solution, the mediator will assist you in writing an agreement that explains what the solution is - typically some action to be performed.

    More information regarding BBB's mediation process is available here.

    III. Arbitration

    (Conditionally BindingBinding Pre-Dispute or Binding Post-Dispute under a contract’s arbitration clause, Binding Moving and Storage)
    If conciliation and/or mediation efforts are not successful, arbitration may be the next step. The parties state their views at an arbitration hearing, offer evidence and let an impartial arbitrator make a decision that will end the dispute.

    If you have a contract that requires the parties to use BBB arbitration to resolve any disputes, you can initiate arbitration by submitting a Demand for Arbitration to BBB. If you are not contractually bound to BBB arbitration but wish to arbitrate an existing dispute, BBB will ask both parties to sign an Agreement to Arbitrate that briefly describes the specific issues involved and the scope of the arbitrator's authority in your case. This agreement sets the groundwork for the arbitration hearing.

    BBB staff will arrange for an arbitrator to hear your case at an arbitration hearing.

    In arbitration, the arbitrator is asked to consider all relevant factors and to make what the arbitrator considers a fair decision. While the parties in dispute are free to argue legal principles, the arbitrator does not have to follow them strictly in making a decision.

    The Arbitration Hearing
    An arbitration hearing usually takes two to three hours and is less formal than a courtroom session.

    Most arbitrations take place in a conference room at BBB or virtually. Some hearings may occur at the site of the dispute - for instance, at the customer's home if the dispute is about home contracting work.

    If necessary, BBB can also arrange for a hearing to be conducted over the telephone or in writing.

    At a hearing you have the opportunity to state your case, ask and answer questions and at the end to summarize your position.

    The arbitrator will listen to both sides and weigh the evidence presented at the hearing. Then the arbitrator will make a decision about the dispute after the hearing is over. BBB will then send the decision to you and to the other party.

    Your legal options
    If you participate in conciliation or mediation with BBB, you are free to take your dispute to court if you are unable to resolve your problem.

    If you participate in conditionally-binding arbitration, a customer is free to go to court if he or she does not like the decision, but the business must abide by the decision if the customer accepts it.

    If you participate in binding arbitration, the arbitrator's decision cannot be reviewed by a court except under very limited circumstances.

    Your BBB contact will let you know what type of arbitration is applicable to your particular case. 

    The HBA has an agreement with the BBB to provide arbitration and professionally trained arbitrators on a fee basis.

    More information regarding the rules of Conditionally Binding Arbitration is available here.

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