Worried Your Home Contractor Doesn’t Live Up To His Promises? Get It In Writing

With the real estate market being slow right now, you may be considering some home improvements. But beware of the scams and the contractors you allow to work on your home!
We can all relate to hiring the wrong contractor for our homes, the most intimate place that belongs to us. Getting recourse is very difficult and proving fault is not easy.
Most Common Scams

  1.     Asking for $ upfront for supplies, but never finishes the job.
  2.     Bill at the end is higher than originally agreed upon.
  3.     Doesn’t provide a written contract.
  4.     Doesn’t provide in warranty or quote a list of materials/brand names to be used.
  5.     Telling you that your repair issue is urgent so you won’t get other (possibly less expensive) quotes.
  6.     Claiming the material you are buying is more expensive than the advertised price because it is custom.
  7.     Not getting building permit before work begins.
  8.     Demanding final payment before contractor pays subs/suppliers.
  9.     Not correcting problems with the work quickly and without a question.
  10.     Offering you a discount for continued business.

Scamming the Elderly

  1. Low-income elderly are at risk for being scammed for money—contractors sometimes scam the elderly with contracts for unneeded work that is overpriced.
  2. If elderly refuses to pay the final bill, often threats to foreclose on the senior’s home.
  3. Protection: National Consumer Law Center (works with AARP—very reputable) and written warranty. Make sure written and oral agreements are exactly the same. Contact number for help: 202-434-3912.

Tips to Protect Yourself Against Being Scammed

  1. Most importantly, check with the Better Business Bureau or the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) before hiring a contractor at 800-611-NARI.
  2. Get references from people in neighborhood who had similar work done with same contractor.
  3. Get a sample contractor contract at the library to make sure all your bases are covered.
  4. Basics needed in contract: work to be done, time-frame, including start and finish dates, present business license and insurance certificate, don’t allow P.O. addresses—make sure there is an actual street name, precise payment schedule outlined, don’t pay more than 1/3 down, with remaining payments tied to completion of the work, agreement that all subs and suppliers will be paid before your final payment is due—otherwise the subs and suppliers can file a mechanics’ lien against your house.
  5. Keep all correspondence in one folder, including emails, contracts, warranties, receipts, etc.
  6. Make sure company is listed in the phone book.
  7. Know that you have 3 days to get out of a contract; it’s your “Right of Recision”.
  8. Try to pay with credit card so you can stop payment if necessary! Check is 2nd best option.

Get more home expert tips from The Shop Cop here.
Photo Credit: Getty Images

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