After a disaster, you most likely want to fix your damaged home as soon as possible. However, did you know this is also a prime time for fraudulent contractors to scam you out of money? To help protect your home and your wallet, here are five tips to keep in mind when you’re hiring help for your home project.
1. Be Cautious of Door-to-Door Contractors
Be leery of any contractor who approaches you unsolicited. They may tell you they just completed a job in your neighborhood, have materials left over from another job or that they’re running a “one day only” deal — whatever the story, don’t buy it. A reputable contractor should have enough business from advertising and referrals to help keep them busy without knocking on doors, so make sure to reach out to contractors you find through respected sources.
2. Find a Reputable Contractor
You can find dependable contractors in online listings, referrals from friends and family or organizations like the National Association of General Contractors. You can also search on the BBB website to learn more about the contractor and check for a history of complaints.
Also, be sure to ask your contractor for proof of liability insurance, licensing, bonding and any references. A trustworthy contractor will typically have these handy and be more than happy to share them with you.
3. Consider Multiple Bids
You may want to consider getting multiple bids on all of your contractor jobs to help ensure potential quotes are consistent and fair. And when it comes to price, the lowest may not be the best. If one bid is dramatically lower than the rest, you may want to get more information from that contractor to see if there are any extra charges that may get added later on and ultimately make that contractor more expensive.
4. Don’t Pay the Full Amount Up Front
It’s unconventional to pay for 100 percent of the work up front. If your contractor suddenly insists on payment up front, it’s a red flag. Once paid, you may never see that contractor — or your money — again.
Make sure you receive a contract with details of the work to be performed and the costs involved.. Typical payment terms are about 10 percent up front and the rest upon completion of the work. Also, it’s best to avoid paying in cash — instead, use a credit card or check so you have a paper trail.
5. Educate Seniors on Scams
Scammers have learned to target the elderly. Make sure your older family members are familiar with the common red flags. Also, if you’re older and living alone, it’s a good idea to run any home improvement projects by people you trust.
With a little research, you may be able to avoid a potential home improvement scam and find a contractor you can trust.