Ways to Avoid Contractor Scams

Hiring a contractor to do repairs or additions to your home can be a tricky endeavor. Before you contact any contractor, there are certain things you can do to eliminate the possibility of fraud or poor work ethics on the contractor’s part.

First and foremost, you need to set a price range you are willing to spend in order to have the work done. Sometimes, cheap is expensive, meaning that a contractor who bids too low for the job may end up costing you more in the long run.

Say you need a new roof. You receive three bids from various contractors. If one bid is twenty percent lower than the others, chances are he/she may not be as qualified to complete the job as the others are. Check his/her license with the Better Business Bureau as well as with the local roofing contractors union. Also, ask for references and check them out. Make a list of important questions to ask the contractor and compare answers for each contractor you talk to. For instance, how long will it take to replace the roof? If one contractor answers ten days and another says three, find out why there is a discrepancy. Questioning is important to find a qualified roofer who is realistic not only in price, but in a time frame to complete the project.

The best way to find a reputable contractor is through word of mouth. Ask friends, co-workers and retail stores specializing in construction materials for references. Many of the larger hardware and home supply stores have lists or business cards from companies they know and recommend.

There are many scam artists out there posing as legitimate contractors. Many prey on the elderly and this is a major cause for concern. If a contractor asks for money up front, this is a sign of possible fraud. It is not common for a contractor to ask for any cash up front unless there is a contract outlining how any deposit will be used and that the money for the deposit will be used first before any more monies are paid out. Older people who are desperate to have work done on their home may fall for the guy who offers them the best deal and who appears to be honest and hardworking. Appearances can be deceiving, however, and if the so-called contractor seems to be a bit too “smooth”, then he or she is likely to be a fraud. Again, get references and check out the credentials.

Never hire the first contractor you talk to. Get bids from at least three who are licensed, insured and bonded. If a contractor is not licensed or insured, send them packing. Even if you have homeowners insurance, a contractor can sue if he or she gets hurt while working on your home. And your homeowners insurance will not pay for some injuries that appear to be fraudulent.

Do not hire a contractor who is going door to door looking for work. Although this may seem like an ambitious way to secure work in a poor economy, it also shows that the contractor does not have enough jobs to keep his business afloat. He may quit in the middle of the job leaving you worse off than you were before or use inferior materials to get the job done.

There is nothing more aggravating than having work completed that needs to be redone because of poor workmanship or inferior quality materials. Once the job is done you want to relax and be happy that it is one more thing you do not have to worry about. Contractors who cannot guarantee their work or will not guarantee their workmanship are to be avoided at all costs.

In the end, it is up to you to do your homework prior to hiring any contractor for work on your home. Whether the job is a big one, such as adding on a room or a roof or a small one, such as an electrical or plumbing repair, make sure you feel comfortable with your choice. You will be glad you did.