10 Steps to Avoid winding up in a Home Improvement Scam

by Cubby on June 9, 2012

10 Steps to Avoid winding up in a Home Improvement Scam


1. JUST PASSING THROUGH: Beware of a contractor who says he is just passing through the neighborhood, has materials left over from another job or wants his payment up front. These kinds of “repair” artists show up in droves after storms or other disasters that have damaged homes.

2. ASK QUESTIONS: You should also ask certain questions, in addition to verifying their ability and reputation to do the job. This should include asking how many projects like yours they’ve completed in the past couple of years. If you ask, they should give you a few references so you can contact previous people who have had work carried out by the tradesman. Ask them to produce an insurance certificate so you can be sure that you’ll receive compensation should the job go wrong.

3. AVOID UNSOLICITED FREE INSPECTIONS:  The “Free” Inspection – While there are some legitimate businesses that will offer free estimates on work you can hire them to perform, beware of advertisements offering free inspections of your foundation, roofing, heating system, or just about anything. The fact is a thorough inspection takes time and effort, which makes a good one worth paying for. In some cases, “free” inspections are ploys for burglars to scope your home, but more often, they are simply a way for contractors to drum up business by identifying “problems” that may not exist.

4. VARIOUS WRNING SIGNS: Here are some warning signs. Watch out for scams or an unlicensed contractor who:

a. Solicits door –to-door

b. Pressures you into making an immediate decision

c. Asks you to pay for the entire job up front. No more than 50% up front.

d. Says “only accept cash payments”

e. Asks you to obtain the building permit

f. Not listed in the BBB or local phone book

g. Just happens to have left over material from a previous job

h. Extra discounts for full cash payment prior to start of job

5. GET IT IN WRITING: Always ask for a written estimate / proposal. Get advised work in writing prior to signing final contract / agreement.

6. LISTEN CLOSELY TO THE ANSWERS: Look for clear, concise answers to your questions. Vague or defensive answers typically indicate that the contractor has something to hide.

7. LICENSED AND INSURED: When you’re ready to hire a contractor, ask for proof that the company is properly licensed and bonded (to protect you against theft and damage), that it carries liability insurance, and that it provides workers’ compensation insurance.

8. GET REFERECNES: Ask the contractor for references from the company’s last three jobs—and check those references!

9. RIGHT TO CANCEL: The contractor does not offer, inform or extend notice of your right to cancel the contract within three days. Law requires notification in writing of your “Right of Rescission”. This grace period allows you to change your mind and declare the contract null and void without penalty (if the agreement was solicited at some place other than the contractor’s place of business or appropriate trade premises-in your home, for instance.)

10. CANNOT FIND COMPANY ANYWHERE: Make sure you can find the company once they leave your home. Do they have an office or headquarters? If you cannot find the company on the Internet through their own website, BBB, phone book be careful.


Trust a Preferred Home Expert. Do your research and protect your investment. Find an Expert of home improvements at www.preferredhomeexperts.com today!


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