6 Ways to Keep from Being Scammed on Home Repairs

Here are six ways to avoid home repair and home improvement scams.
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Your home represents one of the largest financial investments you may make in your lifetime. Of course, you want to take care of that investment. But when repairs need to be made, it’s also important to know you’re getting a good service for your money.

Home repair and home improvement scammers are most likely to propose fixes for driveway sealant, duct cleaning, landscaping, leaky foundations, or furnace and roofing repair. But there are just as many opportunities to be ripped off as there are things in your home to repair. 

Here are six ways to avoid home repair and home improvement scams.

1. Know the Signs

Home improvement or repair scams come in many forms, but their similarities make them easy to avoid as long as you know the signs. Most home improvement fraud involves:

  • Intentionally providing false information.
  • Publishing false advertisements.
  • Increasing the terms and costs of a project midstream.
  • Or not providing the services for which they have been paid.

Here are a few things to look out for when hiring home repair or home improvement professionals:

  • Beware anyone who knocks on your door and offers tree trimming, roof repair, and other services. A true professional has a client schedule and is too busy to work door to door.
  • Beware contractors with “extra materials.” Anyone who comes to your door with leftover materials from another job up the road is likely pedaling sub-par materials that will end up causing more damage than good.
  • Beware cash-only workers. Licensed contractors and home improvement services may offer discounts for cash payments, but they will also accept checks and credit cards. Don’t engage with people who want to avoid a paper trail.
  • Beware pushy salesmen. If someone is offering a “today only” deal, then it’s probably too good to be true. Don’t feel pressured to make a decision or sign a contract immediately.

2. Do Your Homework

It’s easier than ever to research local home repair and home improvement professionals to avoid scams. Read their online reviews—many will have reviews on Google, Angi, or Porch.com. Ask for references, and call them to see how the company’s work has held up over time. You can also check the Better Business Bureau to see if anyone has filed complaints about the company or worker. Don’t forget to make sure the specialists are licensed, bonded, and insured in your state.

Your decision should also depend on more than reputation. Get written estimates for specific projects (the more specific, the better) from several businesses you trust and compare them. We recommend calling at least three comparable businesses. Prices can vary widely based on the quality of service and materials. Make sure the estimate you choose offers you the best quality for the price.

3. Ask the Right Questions

Even after you choose a contractor, it is your consumer right to ask additional questions of your home repair specialist. Confirm their business identity, including their permanent address, how long they’ve been in business, and what year they were initially licensed. Ask about their business practices, including whether they offer a guarantee or warranty for their services and how long such a warranty would last.

For larger companies performing larger updates, it helps to ask about their business practices, as well. Will there be a supervisor on site at all times, and what will their construction schedule be? A site visit to a project in progress will give you insight into their organization and management style. Your contractor should also know if your project requires a permit. And they should be able to help you procure one.

4. Review Your Contract

After getting a written estimate, make sure to get your contract in writing, as well. Review it carefully to make sure everything you discussed in the estimate is included and the terms haven’t changed. Where possible, ask for a price breakdown of the project. This adds further clarification for you on what the project entails and ensures that the contractor is honest about the scope of the work.

5. Don’t Pay the Full Amount up Front

Make sure the work you need is done to the proper standards and to completion before handing over the final payment. The BBB recommends paying no more than 30% of the contracted cost up front as a downpayment. This will allow the contractor to order any special materials or supplies for your project while ensuring that they’re not there just to take the money and run. It can benefit both you and the contractor to tie payments to the progress of the home repair. Don’t make your final payment until you have inspected the final quality of their work.

6. Ask Your Allen Tate/Beverly-Hanks Agent for Help

Allen Tate/Beverly-Hanks agents are a wealth of information. They are by your side from contract to closing. And they are available well after you purchase your home or well before you’re ready to list it on the market. 

Ask your Allen Tate/Beverly-Hanks agent to recommend quality home repair and home improvement specialists for all your needs. From leaky basements to roof repairs, they know just the right person for the job!

Contact your agent today for a list of local renovation and home repair experts.

4 Responses to “6 Ways to Keep from Being Scammed on Home Repairs”

  1. I like how you mentioned that it is important to make sure that your service provider is not providing false information. My uncle mentioned to me last night that he is hoping to repair their deck due to a broken piece of wood and asked me if I have any idea where is the best option to do. Thanks to this informative article and I’ll be sure to tell him that he can consult professional home repair services as they can answer all his inquiries.

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