How to Avoid Home Improvement Scams
Almost every homeowner has some sort of project that they want or need to be done on their home – it can be a simple painting of a house or a major addition that’ll last for years to come.
There are also those that didn’t realize they had a problem – faulty roofs, chimneys, and where mold grows can be deadly problems that don’t make themselves known until it’s too late. Sadly, there are people out there that capitalize on this desperation and ignorance.
These home improvement scams come in many different forms, but it all boils down to one thing – there are fake contractors out there that want to rob you of your money with a litany of false promises and shoddy work. In order to protect yourself from these home improvement scams, you need to know what red flags to look out for.
If It Sounds Too Good to be True, It Probably Is
The number one thing that a home improvement scam artist does is try to spin what they’re offering into some great deal. Often times they quote you for a project that is wildly lower than the what other contractors go by.
This should be an immediate red flag as this means that either they don’t intend on finishing the job or don’t know what they’re talking about. Often-times these form of scams come with some sort of half-baked reason – the most common reason that they have extra materials from another nearby job and they knew that you needed work done.
Professional companies don’t just offer to do work for well below the market value because they have extra stuff lying around.
They Come to You Unsolicited
This isn’t to say that every person that’s trying to sell you something at your door is a scam artist, but when it comes to doing construction work, it’s rare that professionals need to go out and knock on doors.
Unsolicited knocks on the door by people who say they can give you a good deal on fixing up an aspect of your home might seem genuine, but you should immediately ask who referred them and some of their past jobs.
If they seem avoidant on this subject this should set off some bells. Ideally, you should be able to look them up through different referral services like Angie’s List or Nextdoor.
They Pressure You Into a Fast Decision
Tactics that put a lot of pressure on someone to buy now is the realm of sleazy salespeople. If you feel like you’re on a TV infomercial, you might want to take a step back and really see who’s selling you the project.
Any repair or renovation is a major investment that needs plenty of planning and thought put into it – a serious contractor knows this. A scam artist will try to impress on you that their offer is for that day only, or that there is only an extremely small time frame for you to take advantage of this great deal. They do this so as to have people not think about what they’re offering too much.
The Payment Up Front is Too High
With any renovation or repair process, there should be some sort of down payment expected. That being said, excessive payments up front should make you pause for concern. Local and state regulations limit the amount of down payment a person should be expected to pay for a reason. Keep in mind that most contractors are usually willing to negotiate a price for your down payment
They Want to Avoid Paperwork
Professionals of all stripes should be willing to put a contract in writing. Not only are they there to protect you, but can also be used to protect the contractors themselves.A written contract should have as much as possible related to the project at hand – dates of scheduled work, a list of charges, potential changes in cost, insurance and so forth.
They should also be willing to pull all the necessary permits for the job. This paperwork is in place to be one of the best legal protections you can have in case something goes wrong.
The Price Keeps Going Up
Construction projects can bring unforeseen problems in the form of electrical, mold and damage not seen from the surface. While some additional fees should be expected from time to time, if you ever think that the contractor you hired keeps coming back to you with constant cost adjustments, it might be time to get a second opinion. If they aren’t trying to scam you right out, they might not be fit to properly take care of the job at hand.
What to Do If You Have Been Scammed
If you have found out too late that you were scammed, not all hope is lost. The best course of action is to try to contact the person who did the scamming – often-times these type of people don’t expect to face any legal action for what they did and will often settle with some sort of refund rather than go down to court.
The best way to do this is in writing as this can be proven, so avoid any calls by phone. If they fail to respond to you the best course of action is to go to small claims court. Keep in mind that each state has a different set of rules and guidelines resulting in different minimum amounts being needed.
From here you can also file complaints through state consumer protection office and with your local home builders association if you have one. Finally, use the power of the internet and media to good use – leave bad reviews on sites like Facebook, Yelp, and other social media sites that can be linked back to the contractor.
It might not get your money back, but you can be sure it’ll undermine their attempts at scamming in the future.
Keep an Eye Out for Home Improvement Scams
There are tens of thousands of home improvement scams that happen every year. While they can show up at just about anytime, you can expect them to often come up when people are the most desperate – typically during natural disasters.
Often times these groups of people reuse many of the same techniques over and over again – coming to the door unsolicited, making offers too good to be true, and just generally using high-pressure sales tactics to force you into a decision right then and there.
You should always keep yourself a cool head and ask to see their credentials, their certification, and ask to have a receipt of all the work they intend to do. If not, politely dismiss them and call an actual professional.
Protect Yourself From Scams
As you have probably learned, home improvement is a big investment for your home and untrustworthy construction companies are trying to scam you the best way they can. Remember to do research on your home improvement project.
Additionally, you’ll want to find installers who are factory trained, certified and have decades of experience. At Feldco, our installers have all of that and they are certainly professional when it comes to window, siding and door replacements.
Most homeowners across the Midwest go with Feldco because the company has a long reputation for providing superior products since 1976. Lastly, we have excellent customer service to inform you about your home improvement project at all times. Speak to a product specialist and get a free quote today.