When it comes to home construction, there are thousands of general contractors to choose from. The best way to narrow down the reputable contractors from the not-so-reputable ones is to do your research, ask the right questions, demand proof of credentials, and choose a contractor that works specifically in the field you need. For example, if you need roof replacement, choose a licensed roofing contractor rather than a home remodeling contractor. A vague job description can mean they specialize in a wide array of construction projects. Instead, you want a contractor who operates their business with an acute focus on roof repair and replacement.
One of the biggest problems in the home construction industry are contractor scams. It is critical to always beware of sneaky home improvement scams because they are very common. They can easily cost a homeowner thousands of dollars if they fall victim to the dishonesties. Fortunately, anyone can avoid becoming a victim of home improvement scams with the proper knowledge and attitude. Continue reading to learn some important information about identifying these kinds of scams, protecting yourself from false loans, and who to turn to if you have a bad experience with an unethical contractor.
Signs That a Contractor is Trying to Swindle You:
– They knock door-to-door and offer their business.
– They come to your door and offer you discounts for referring other clients.
– They tell you they can give you a deal because they happen to have excess materials leftover from another job.
– They give ultimatums or pressure you into making an immediate decision.
– They only accept cash payments and/or request that you pay all fees upfront.
– They know a lender and recommend that you borrow money from them.
– They tell you to get the required building permits for the work.
– They tell you that your property's work is going to be a “demonstration.”
– They offer a lifetime warranty or improbable long-term guarantee.
– You cannot find their business number or name listed in any local directories.
Even just one of these signs is an indication that you are not working with a responsible or experienced contractor. Furthermore, you must beware of a similar scam with loans. Home improvement loan cons are just as common and detrimental. This can lead to you unknowingly signing a home equity loan with incredibly high interest rates, points, and fees. And since the contractor has already been paid by this loan, they can lose interest in the work and fail to do a good job; or worse, not complete the work at all.
How to Report a Bad Experience
If you have a bad experience like this with a contractor, first try to work it out with them. After any phone conversations, mail a certified letter to them, and in it, request a receipt. Then keep copies of all records. This paper trail is your record that the company or contractor received your letter. If this does not work, you still have other options.
You can to report them to certain industry organizations, and possibly earn some sort of recompense. This includes the state attorney general, the local consumer protection office, the local home builders association, the local media's “call for action” lines, and various dispute resolution programs in your town.