Before hiring a general contractor to assist you in home repairs do some research so that you know your rights and responsibilities. If you choose the wrong contractor you could be stuck with a lot of bills and/or un unfinished project you paid in full for. Here are some tips that can help you avoid a home repair nightmare.
Make sure that your contrator is reputable. Solicit your friends for their opinions and advice on selecting an honest contractor if you don’t know of any. Once you’ve selected a contractor do some additional research on the web to find out if there are any negative comments about them floating around or better yet check with the Better Business Bureau in your area to see if anyone has filed a complaint against them. You could also ask building inspectors or your
Whatever you do, make sure that who you choose is legit. Fully investigate them and make sure that they are fully licensed and insured.
Always ask the contractor for their own references and get a written estimate from them before they begin any work.
Do not pay for the entire job before work has begun and don’t make a final payment until you are happy with the results. You may be asked to make a small deposit or submit a small payment for building materials which is a completely normal and fair practice.
If someone claims to have just completed repair work on a home nearby and offers you a discount because there are leftover material be wary. There’s no reason for someone to make an offer like this. The material could even be stolen!
Ask the contractor for lien waivers because suppliers and subcontractors have a right to file a lien against you if the general contractor you hired fails to pay them.
Door-to-Door Home Repair Scams
When someone comes to your door unsolicited offering home repair services, be on your guard. Many of these so calleds handymen are looking to scam you.
Even if your home needs repairs or maintenance you should heed our warning about door-to-door handymen. Many of them aren’t really handymen at all. They’re only fast-talking scam artists looking to take advantage of you. They prefer to target the elderly but no one is safe from these criminals.
They appear quite knowledgeable to most homeowners and will be eager to help you in any way possible. Think twice before hiring one of them. Ask yourself how much you know about this person. Can they at least verify anything they’ve told you about themselves. What if their references are, in fact, shills? You’d be surprised at how many people fall for their sales pitch and allow them inside. That’s when the fun begins.
Should you give them a deposit?
If they’re dishonest, you can bet they’ll find something wrong and it’s going to be expensive to fix. They’ll point out problems with your roof, your plumbing, your electrical wiring and if you bring something up they’ll pounce on it like a piece of meat and agree to fix it for you. They’ll tell you that all they need to get started is a small deposit for materials before work can begin. A deposit of this kind isn’t unusual and it’s the key to this scam being successful. Once you give them the money, you may never see them again.
In some instances, the handyman will come back and pretend to make the agreed upon repairs. If you’re not watching carefully or don’t know much about the work being done, it will be hard to realize just how little they’re doing. Some of them will even bring in used or counterfeit parts to make the scam that much more effective. Once they’re done, they’ll just keep coming back to make more and more repairs if you let them.
Home Repair Scams Target Seniors
Many of these home repair scams involve seniors, especially those with Alzheimer’s. They’re perfect targets because they often forget whether or not they’ve paid the repair bill. A common practice among these repair scam operators is to come back and bill the hapless home owner again and again for a repair that’s already has been paid for! There have been reports of people paying thousands and thousands of dollars for a single repair that might have only cost a couple hundred bucks.
Don’t be Afraid to Say “No”
Your best bet to avoid this kind of scam is to never accept an offer from someone peddling their services door-to-door. Only let licensed, bonded or at least highly recommended workers do home repairs for you. Our last piece of advice is that you take the time to look into any references given.