When hiring a home improvement contractor, scams abound…especially following a major storm, flood, or other weather event when many homeowners are trying to repair damage to their homes. While these scam artists are prevalent after inclement weather, contractor scams can happen any time, so be wary of high-pressure sales tactics, up-front fees, and fly-by-night businesses. BBB reminds consumers to be on the lookout for con artists who are looking to take homeowners’ money and deliver shoddy work… or no work at all.
“Hiring the right contractor can make all the difference with any home improvement project,” said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. “Poor quality, overcharging, poor communication, and a poor experience overall can be minimized and perhaps eliminated by doing research and by getting several estimates beforehand.”
BBB advises the following before starting any improvement project for your home or business:
Research and gather information. Search for a contractor’s Business Profile at BBB.org for free information on their history of complaints, read verified Customer Reviews, and see if they are an Accredited Business. BBB Accredited Businesses make a commitment to uphold BBB’s accreditation standards including: to build trust, advertise honestly, tell the truth, be transparent, honor their promises, be responsive to their customers, safeguard privacy and embody integrity.
Ask for multiple quotes. Solicit at least three bids from prospective contractors based upon the same specifications, materials, labor and time needed to complete the project. Find contractors you can trust on BBB.org. Use BBB’s free Request a Quote program to receive bids from BBB Accredited Businesses.
Get it in writing. Be sure to have a detailed description of the work to be done, materials to be used, and an estimated start and end date. Make sure all verbal promises are included in the contract. Ask how much work will be subcontracted and ask for information on the subcontractors. Ask questions if you do not understand any part of the contract. Never sign an incomplete or partially blank contract. Always retain a copy of your contract.
Verify license and insurance. Confirm that any contractor you are considering doing business with is properly licensed, bonded and insured.
Inquire about a lien waiver. A lien waiver is a statement from your contractor that says all suppliers and subcontractors have been paid for their work.
Never pay in full up front. Stagger your payments so your final payment is not due until the work is complete and you have fully inspected it. Do not pay cash; make sure your check is written to a company, not an individual, or that you use a credit card. Paying with a credit card will provide some recourse should the job not be completed as stated in the contract.
Get a receipt. Request a receipt marked “Paid in Full” when the job is completed and your final payment made.
Find trusted, vetted home improvement contractors near you and check out BBB’s home HQ. And before you hire anybody, read these tips on hiring a contractor.To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker.To learn how to protect yourself, go to “10 Steps to Avoid Scams.”Go to BBB.org to look up business profiles, file a complaint, or write a customer review. Visit BBB Scam Tracker to research and report scams.Read more about BBB Accreditation Standards and BBB Standards for Trust. Learn how to become a BBB Accredited Business.
ABOUT BBB®: BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Most BBB services to consumers are free of charge. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Visit bbb.org for more information. There are over 100 local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Central East Texas, which was founded in 1985 and serves 19 counties.