Sadly, home improvement scammers are lurking out there, just waiting to take your cash in exchange for shoddy results. Fortunately, however, warning signs abound. In particular, should any contractor try one of the following lines on you, it’s wise to decline his or her services.
Here Are Things Home Improvement Scammers Say to Homeowners:
I have leftover materials from a previous job that I can use on your home.
Sometimes, fraudulent contractors try to convince would-be customers that they can offer them a deal by using leftover supplies. The problem with this statement is: Why would a home improvement “professional” have so many supplies left over?
If this person had the requisite expertise, wouldn’t he or she be able to, accurately calculate how many supplies are needed for each assignment?
I’m just stopping by, and I happened to be in this neighborhood today
Successful home improvement contractors don’t need to go door to door to drum up business. To the contrary, they realize that this practice makes them look amateurish, if not disreputable.
You might even notify the police if someone appears at your doorstep claiming to be a contractor, especially if there have been a rash of burglaries in the area recently. After all, this technique is one that burglars sometimes employ to scope out future targets.
I’m offering a special discount today/this week only
Offering a discount that expires immediately is not good salesmanship. Rather, it’s a form of pressuring customers, a means of trying to induce potential clients to make impulse decisions. If a reputable home improvement contractor were to offer a temporary discount, it would be valid for weeks, if not months.
You’ll need to pay the entire amount upfront
If a home improvement service requires your money at the outset, or if it instructs you to make a large deposit upfront — especially if that deposit must be paid in cash — you should be very suspicious. Sure, you may be required to make a deposit, especially if your project is extensive and expensive.
But that sum should not exceed 35 percent of the cost of the construction or renovation. Successful and scrupulous home improvement professionals have enough lines of credit to pay for the materials involved in any job they accept.
In a related matter, you should be allowed to inspect the work your contractor does, to make sure you’re satisfied before you pay. Likewise, this person should provide you a list of all labor and material costs, so you can ensure that you’ve gotten your moneys worth.
I’ll help you get financing
It’s appalling how many crooked contractors make this offer — and equally appalling how often customers fall for it. If someone purportedly in the construction business were ever to feed you this line, you might respond with a simple question: “Oh yeah? Do you own a bank?”
Do not fall for any financing paperwork that he or she produces, either. It might look as is it’s on the level, but it’s easy for scammers to create fake forms that convincingly mimic the real things.
Beware, if you were to sign those papers, their terms could be legally binding. That means you’d be responsible for any fees or interest rates buried in the fine print, and they might be shockingly high. You might even end up turning over your home to that con artist.
In short, always research contractors carefully before doing business with them. Verify that they can provide the names of satisfied customers. Scrutinize online customer review websites, and contact the state licensing board and the Better Business Bureau. In addition, ask around at your favorite hardware stores. And always remember to trust your gut.
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