As the weather continues to warm up and we prepare to head into the midst of summer months, more and more people begin to look into a variety of summer remodeling projects for their home. Anything from remodeling, upgrades, maintenance and add-ons. Whatever your next home construction job may entail, it is important that you’re aware of potential scams out there. In particular, with the potential money involved in remodeling and construction, many homeowners have been scammed out of tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars and left with homes unsuitable for living.
Here are some helpful tips to help you avoid being the next victim of a remodeling scam.
- Avoid One-Time Offers or “Today Only” Sales. Many scam artists utilize enticing one-time offers or “today only” sales as a gimmick to get people to agree to move forward with them. It’s not to say that those in the construction industry can’t offer sales, but most companies have the flexibility to work with you on their pricing regardless of the timing.
- Do Your Research. As a consumer, you have the power and the right to do your own research about a contractor. A good source is the local Better Business Bureau. While it doesn’t necessarily guarantee your results, most people turn to the BBB to complain about people or companies. Also, look to see if the contractor is a legit legal entity filed with your state and has its own website. Look at the quality of its website and whether there’s a physical address for that company that can be verified. If possible, ask for references and verify any references of prior customers. Most customers should be happy to tell you about their experience with their remodel and the contractors that completed their remodel.
- Cash or Payment Upfront. Beware of companies or contractors that require payment for their work upfront, especially in cash. While most companies will require some kind of deposit down to begin work, particularly because there are usually parts, materials and permits that need to be purchased prior to completion, you should be skeptical for any contractors requiring some kind of cash payment for a discount. In fact, you’re better off paying with a credit card, because this way if there’s any dispute about the charges, most credit card companies will dispute the charges for you and even reverse the charges if the merchant is non-responsive or does not validate the charges.
- Beware of the Fly-By-Night Contractors. There are plenty of contractors that drive in unmarked vans or cars, but company vehicles with marked vans, visible phone numbers and website address or other kinds of visible marketing can be a safer bet than the unmarked vehicle. Sometimes the private or lone handyman contractor can provide you lower estimates for the work, because they don’t have the same kind of overhead of a company that is maintaining a website, office staff, and other expenses, but saving some money today may end up costing you more in the end. You are paying for expertise, experience, establishment and peace of mind that you’re hiring contractors to complete the remodeling project—more than just completing the job, hopefully leaving you with your dream bathroom, kitchen, bedroom or home.
- Avoid Direct Solicitors. Scam artists seek out victims and while it’s not necessarily a scam to be solicited for business, beware of the contractor that comes knocking on your door to tell you what things you need done on your house and claiming the ability to get it done inexpensively or quickly. Unsolicited advice about remodeling and construction work on your home should immediately raise red flags for you.
Construction scams happen every day and it is heartbreaking to see so many people open up their home and wallets to these crooks. Don’t be the next victim and be on guard whenever you are searching for your next construction company. Most professional construction companies are going to be understanding of any hesitation you may have and would be happy to provide you all of the necessary information you need to make the decision to move forward or not. If they don’t, then keep looking!
This post is brought to you by the good folks at Grennan Construction, a family owned and operated company since 1998. We specialize in roofing, siding, windows, insulation, gutters and chimney repairs. We would love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter.
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