Watch out for these contractor scams when it comes time to repair or replace your home windows. Perhaps you are planning to put your home on the market and need to complete some repairs prior to listing the home. You need to be extremely careful when choosing a contractor to perform the work. The same theory applies if you are undertaking any upgrades to a home that you have just recently acquired.
Common Contractor Scams to Avoid
The Contractor Asks for Cash Up Front
Demanding up-front cash is one of the more common of all contractor scams reported to the Better Business Bureau every year. When a contractor is asking for 30% or more of the total project cost upfront, stating that they need it to purchase materials for your project; chances are they are not financially sound. A scammer could simply take the money and run. A more reasonable down-payment would be about 10 percent of the contract price. After-all, a reputable contractor would have a line of credit with his regular suppliers.
Trust Me! You Can Take my Word to the Bank.
Never hire a contractor based on his word alone. As pleasant as they may seem to be; you need to have everything in writing, including an entire scope of work and terms of payment. Without a signed contract, in writing, you will have no legal recourse whatsoever in the event things go wrong.
You Won’t Need a Permit for This Small Project.
If your home remodeling project encompasses electrical work, pluming, or any structural changes a permit is more than likely required. If needed, you can obtain one from your city or county permit office. If your contractor shows a reluctance to acquire the proper permits, this may be a tell-tale sign that they don’t have a valid contractor’s license. In this case you should contact the permit office yourself to determine if a permit is required or not.
This Unexpected Problem Will Be Expensive to Fix
An unscrupulous contractor may try hit you up for additional charges for unexpected changes in the scope of work. This is one of the contractor scams that is tricky to avoid. The best advice is that you need to have a written change order procedure documented in the initial contract. The contract should specify that additional work can only be performed after a written estimate is provided by the contractor and the approval must be signed by the owner prior to commencement of the additional work.
I Can Give You a Great Discount if You Pay me in Cash!
Always pay by check so you will have proof of payment. If a contractor is trying to avoid paying taxes to the IRS, they won’t think twice about ripping you off either.
I Left My Business Cards at Home
A legitimate contractor will have professional letterhead and business cards, both with a valid address, not just a PO Box. It’s important that you know how to get in touch with the contractor upon completion of the project.
I Left My Contractors License in my Office
Make the contractor provide a verifiable copy of their contractor’s license before you sign the contract, and certainly before they perform any work. They also need to provide a valid, up-to-date, insurance certificate.
I Will Provide a List of References Later
References are great way to check out the contractor. You should take the time to contact several of them to see how they were treated and if they were happy with the quality of the work. Don’t sign the contract until you have taken the time to speak with and validate a few of the references on the list.