6 Sure Fire Ways to Avoid Getting Ripped Off by a Home Improvement Contractor

Improving your home can be very rewarding. The return on investment is great in terms of both home value and the feeling you get from making your home a nice place to live. Some home improvement projects can easily be done on your own, but, some major projects, like getting a new roof, waterproofing your basement, or installing new windows, is best left to a professional contractor. But, this can be a scary prospect for many home owners. We all seem to know at least one person who hired a contractor then was ripped off. Here are 6 ways to avoid being scammed by a contractor and get the work done right.

1. Never, Ever Pay the Total Cost Up Front…Especially in Cash!

If the service provider is pushing you to pay for the whole job up front in cash, you can be sure that they’re scamming you.

Paying a deposit is one thing, after all, the contractor has to be sure that HE’S not getting scammed too. But, to pay for the entire job all at once in cash (even if they give you a written receipt) is a huge mistake. Checks and credit cards both provide a paper trail. This way, if you do get ripped off, you can get your money back. If you have to sue, you have proof that you paid for a service.

2. Don’t Fall for Door to Door Marketing

Local business rarely send someone door to door. It’s a cheap, easy way to market but it’s considered highly intrusive. So, most good local business avoid it like the plague.

Sure, sometimes a small business that’s bootstrapping it’s marketing may come knocking, but, it’s best to avoid this unless you know for sure that they have a good reputation in the town or city in which you live.

3. Contractor Offers Huge Savings Because They Have “Left Over Materials” From Another Job

Here is a classic move by rip off artists. They come to you, under bid everyone else by a huge margin and justify it because they have left over materials from “a job a few blocks away.” This is a clear warning sign of a fly-by-night operator. Sometimes savings that big really are too good to be true. Avoid this ploy at all costs!

4. They Won’t Give You The Necessary Permits & Documents

Failure to provide the necessary paperwork from the county or city office is another sign that the contractor does not deal locally and doesn’t plan on spending a lot of time in the area either. It indicates that the business is looking to avoid contact with the local brass and that they are looking to make a quick score before skipping town.

5. Push You Into Getting Financing with Their Lender

Here’s another big one. They sold you on the job and that they offer financing…but, the want you to ONLY use their lender. They’re really pushy about it…

Don’t fall for it. Many home owners have fallen for this trick and unknowingly signed off on home equity loans, and weird, costly monthly payment programs added on to the cost of the job. You should be free to seek out the best rate for your home improvement project’s financing.

6. Talk to Other Home Owners in the Neighborhood

This is one of the best ways to protect yourself from getting scammed or ripped off by a home improvement contractor.

Simply go out and ask around. While there are sites like Angies’s List that rate service providers, nothing beats word of mouth from local home owners. Get out there and see what the word on the street is about the business. This is the best guide to quality you’ll find.