How to Avoid Home Repair Scams
Here are six basic steps to protect you from being on the five O’clock news
1 Never pay the full amount up front.
Paying before the work is started is an open invitation for a scammer to leave and never come back to finish or even start your project. Insist on a written contract that states when payments will be made. A common practice is 1/3 when the contract is signed, 1/3 at a pre-determined level of completion (such as when the material is delivered) and the final 1/3 when you are satisfied the job is completed.
2 Beware of door to door salesmen.
“Storm Chasers” often invade an area hit by a natural disaster such as floods, tornados and hail storms. Even without a natural disaster they may claim to be working in the neighborhood and have noticed you need this or that repaired.
3 Beware of limited time offers.
A red flag should go up any time a salesman offers a limited time offer that must be accepted today. These are usually followed by drastic price reductions when the consumer doesn’t buy after considerable persuasion. Generally speaking if a deal is a good buy today it will be a good buy next week or next month also.
4 Always make sure the proper permits are pulled.
Most remolding or repair jobs of any size will require a building permit be obtained. A quick call to your city or county building inspector will verify if a permit is required or not. Avoid anyone who wants to do work for you without obtaining the proper permits. Permits are designed to protect you. If your contractor doesn’t obtain the proper permits you may be faced with having a project stopped and possibly having to pay twice to have it done properly.
5 Verify their insurance.
Reputable contractors will provide you with copies of their general liability insurance and proof of workman’s compensation insurance. A quick call to the insurance agency will verify if the insurance is current. No insurance, no work. Home repair scams are often the work of unreliable so called contractors that do not have insurance.
6 Finally have the contractor issue lien wavers.
Lien waivers are your only protection against unpaid suppliers and sub-contractors. Check with your local bank or savings and loan; they should be able to help you with this. Every time you make a payment your contractor should issue a lien waver for the amount you are paying and a final lien waver when the job is paid in full.