How to Spot Possible Home Improvement Scams

We've seen several examples in social media and on television lately of unscrupulous remodeling contractors who are scamming consumers, especially the elderly.

If you are planning to do a major remodeling project or significant repair on your home, it is always best to get a recommendation from a trusted source.  If you don't have a trusted source to ask, then you can always ask a real estate agent.  We know lots of reputable people and companies that provide great services of all kinds to homeowners in our area.

How can you spot a possible scammer?  Here are some of the ways:

1. They ask you to pay up front.  When a contractor asks you to pay for the entire project up front before they start any work, then you should not hire them.  It is reasonable, however, for the contractor to require a down payment for materials and initial labor, and most of them will ask for a certain percentage of the estimated cost.  Depending on the job, how expensive it is, and how long it will take, the contractor may ask for periodic payments as the job progresses.

2. They solicit your business by showing up at your door.  The contractor may come to your door and talk about the work they noticed needs to be done on your house.  This is a common scam technique, and you should be very cautious of anyone who just shows up.  

3. They are offering you a limited-time deal and a short time to make a decision to get a special discount.  Reputable contractors may indeed offer you savings, but they won't be pushy and force you to make a decision on a short deadline.  If the deal sounds good, then take the time to check out the contractor's references before proceeding.

4. Be sure to verify the contractor's credentials.  Ensure they have the proper licensing and insurance coverage. You don't want someone working on your house that does not have the legal credentials to do so.  Not only that, but if they do not have the proper insurance coverage, you could be liable for an accident they have while on your property.

One more thing . . . if you just don't feel right about them, or there is something makes makes you uncomfortable about them, go with your gut.  Don't hire someone to work on your house if you are not 100% comfortable.