Planning a Fall Project? Don't Get Nailed by a Home Improvement Scam

Planning a Fall Project? Don't Get Nailed by a Home Improvement Scam
Image: Pixabay
October 15, 2015

Fall is here and the leaves are changing—don't become the victim of a scammer's shortchanging!

If you're considering a home improvement project this fall such as building a deck, getting new windows, redoing the kitchen, installing a security system, repaving the driveway, or adding a fresh coat of paint to your home's interior, it might make sense to hire a pro rather than take on the job yourself.

Unfortunately, there are people out there posing as professionals that only want to take your money and run, often leaving you with shoddy, incomplete work—or nothing at all.

Finding a good contractor or other professional to get the job done right the first time is essential. A home improvement project gone wrong can cost you big time. Choosing the wrong person for the job can cost you more than money and frustration; it can lead to delays, subpar work, and even legal problems.

Before you hire anyone to tackle your fall home improvement project, get several estimates and ask plenty of questions, including:

1) How long have you been in business?

2) Are you licensed?

3) How many projects like mine have you completed in the last year?

4) Will my project require a permit?

5) What types of insurance do you carry?

6) Can you provide customer references?

Also, make sure that you ALWAYS get a written contract. Having the details of the project in writing—including price, scope and time expectations—will be crucial should any problems arise down the road.

Contract requirements vary by state. Even if your state doesn't require a written agreement, ask for one!

How can you recognize a scrupulous contractor orpotential home improvement scam? You may not want to do business with someone who: knocks on your door for business, just happens to have materials left over from a previous job, pressures you for an immediate decision, only accepts cash, asks you to pay everything up-front, or asks YOU to get the required building permits.

If any aspect of the deal seems off or too good to be true, it probably is. Trust your instincts and look elsewhere. Asking friends, neighbors and family members for recommendations is a great place to start!