10 Ways to Avoid Home Improvement Scams

“We’ve all heard that knock on the door in the early evening.  And ‘Today Only’ they are offering a great deal for their Home Improvement services.  Never buy under pressure!  Read on for other potential scams to avoid.”

Ed Johnson & Denise Buck – DC Metro Realty Team

A Southern California contractor recently pled guilty to victimizing almost 12 people with home improvement projects. The company used telemarketers to get jobs, then did poor work, overbilled and in some cases did no work at all. One homeowner gave a Baton Rouge, Louisiana man $3,000 to make home repairs. Then he quit showing up to do the work and couldn’t be reached by phone. In Scott County, Indiana, four men approached several homeowners saying they’d fix their driveways. The price was set, but when the fraudsters completed the work, they demanded more money.

(Credit: thieury/Shutterstock)

(Credit: thieury/Shutterstock)

Although most contractors are ethical and above board, a significant minority just want your money. The illegitimate ones come to your home in person or call on the phone.

Warning Signs

Here’s a list of some of the scams they perpetuate.

1. They Offer Left-Over Product

Roving contractors may knock on your door and state a very low price for sealing your driveway because they have leftover sealant from a nearby job. What they use doesn’t seal at all and washes away with the first rain. An honest, reliable contractor will never come to your door offering you a discount for unused materials.

(Credit: Le Do/Shutterstock)

(Credit: Le Do/Shutterstock)

2. They Need a Substantial Down Payment

You hand over the money and the fraudulent workers flee with it. Reputable contractors may ask for a small amount of money upfront, but the large percentage of the payment usually comes upon completion of the work.

(Credit: Kotomiti Okuma/Shutterstock)

(Credit: Kotomiti Okuma/Shutterstock)

3. They Do Shoddy Work and Use Inferior Materials

Watch out for someone offering to paint your home. The scam artists won’t do hardly any prep work, sometimes water down the paint or put cheap paint in premium-brand cans. Workers who do quality work take more time preparing the home than actually painting it and also come to your house with properly-sealed paint cans.

(Credit: SJ Travel Photo and Video/Shutterstock)

(Credit: SJ Travel Photo and Video/Shutterstock)

4. They Say, “I’m Doing Some Work in Your Neighborhood”

Then these fly-by-nights tell you they noticed problems with your roof, chimney, windows, siding, etc. and they offer to fix it for you. Usually no repairs are needed. When you research a contractor, make sure he has the required permits to do the work so you won’t be held responsible if something goes wrong.

(Credit: Andy Dean Photography/Shutterstock)

(Credit: Andy Dean Photography/Shutterstock)

5. They Propose a Special Deal for Today Only

You have to sign on right now or the offer goes away. Nobody should make sudden decisions about home repairs or remodeling projects. They should be thought out carefully. Legitimate contractors don’t have one-day-only sales.

(Credit: Paul Vasarhelyi/Shutterstock)

(Credit: Paul Vasarhelyi/Shutterstock)

Avoid Being a Victim

To avoid being a victim of a fraudulent contractor, take the following steps to protect you and your bank account:

1. Hire professionals who are licensed, bonded and insured.

2. Search for contractors on websites like Pro.com to get quality work.

3. Check for complaints about who you plan to hire on the Better Business Bureau site.

4. Get recommendations from friends, family members and neighbors.

5. Obtain multiple estimates on any home repair needed.

6. Get references from the company’s last three jobs and call them.

7. Choose someone you’ve researched yourself, not anybody who calls or rings your doorbell.

8. Ask to see identification.

9. Pay by check or credit card and never in full upfront.

10. Get a written contract stating what will be done, the costs, a start and completion date and any warranty information.

By Pro.com