We have all been there: sitting in our living room or walking out to the driveway to check the mail, when a stranger approaches us with the home improvement deal of a lifetime. It sounds too good to be true and guess what — it is.
Unfortunately for those of us in the business — and homeowners too, of course — thousands of home improvement scams affect property owners across Georgia and the United States ever year. Not only does it give those of us “in the biz” a bad name, but it hurts homeowners from both a financial and emotional level.
Fortunately, there are some definite red flags that you can spot that will tip you off as to whether or not a home contractor can be trusted or not. We will discuss some of these in today’s article.
The first sign to look for is when a “contractor” says that they were in your neighborhood today. They will usually say something along the lines of they noticed your home had some structural damage or that your driveway needed some repair work. Lucky for you, they happened to be in the area and were observant.
The truth of the matter is, legit home remodelers are often too busy to go knocking door to door for work. Beware of this type of fly-by contractor, as they will not only take your money and leave you high and dry, but they also may have a partner with them that will try to break into your home while you are busy “negotiating” with the “helpful handyman.”
Another red flag to look out for is a “contractor” that has a truck with no signage or a dilapidated vehicle. Professional appearance, both from a personal and vehicle perspective, is a clear sign of a legitimate home remodeler. If a handyman shows up at your door in a rickety vehicle and is covered in filth, send them packing. If they cannot take care of their vehicle, how can you expect them to take care of your home?
Limited time offers are another tool that bad contractors use to lure in unsuspecting homeowners. A legitimate home remodeling company will never have a one- or two-day deal. True remodeling professionals understand that you need time to think about your home improvement project and will want to check references and get other bids for work. If someone knocks on your door with a limited time offer, kindly send them on their way.
The final contractor scam red flag to look out for is when they ask for money before the job even begins. In some cases this is normal, particularly if the home project is large, such as adding an addition or renovating a room in the house. However, they should never ask for cash to go and purchase supplies. Giving them money or a check for this purpose is a sure way to lose money.
To avoid being scammed by a bad contractor, always be sure to conduct your due diligence. Ask plenty of questions, search for online reviews, and ask for references. Check out the Better Business Bureau listing for the contractor’s company as well and consider giving the local building code department a call to check in any home remodeling professional to see if any complaints have been filed.