Making home improvements is one of the benefits of homeownership. After a few years of comfortable living, you may want to do some renovations or remodeling to make your home even more comfortable and to reflect your lifestyle. Hiring a home improvement contractor could be a convenient option for those who don’t have the time or necessary skills needed to complete a project. If you’re considering hiring a home improvement contractor, there are helpful tips you may want to consider to ensure your hard-earned money doesn’t go to fraudulent individuals who might offer you renovation or remodeling services.
Homeowners could lose thousands of dollars to fraudulent contractors
As a homeowner trying to improve a home, it could be a frustrating situation if you unknowingly hire a shady contractor, just like what happened to a homeowner from Texas who is seeking justice after becoming a victim of an alleged fraudulent contractor. The homeowner claimed that a contractor that she hired left a remodeling project unfinished after paying $13,000. It was only after the homeowner notified the authorities that she realized she most likely had been defrauded after being told that “the man is not who he says he is”.
Spring season is in the offing and if you plan to hire a contractor to improve your home, it’s important that you hire a legitimate one.
Consider these important tips before you hire a contractor
Although it’s convenient to use the internet to look for a contractor, some homebuyers ask friends or relatives for referrals of contractors whom they’ve worked in the past. If you use the internet, you may want to visit the National Association of Home Builders. Check out a few contractors’ websites and read their reviews. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, you may want to ask the contractors’ past clients to see what they say or their impression when they hired the contractor.
Try to find out everything about the contractor
If you’re about to spend thousands of dollars on a renovation project, it’s normal that you ask questions about the contractor that you intend to hire. Contractors are often required to have updated insurance policies that cover personal liability, worker’s compensation, and property damage. Find out what types of permits are needed for the project. Depending on the state where you live, renovation permits are necessary even in small projects. Find out if the contractor will use subcontractors for the job. Subcontractors must have licenses and updated insurance coverage as well.
Learn your payment options
Paying in cash is never advised when hiring a contractor. Instead, you could either use your credit card, issue a check, or arrange for financing to pay a contractor. Find out if you could negotiate the amount of down payment you need to put for a project. To get an idea of the state laws regarding the amount of down payment, a contractor may ask you to get in touch with your local consumer protection office.
Some homeowners even try to pay a contractor only upon completion of the project to ensure that the contractor will finish the project on time.
Secure a comprehensive written contract
A contract is a legal document that will define the scope of a project and details the expectations, obligations, and responsibilities between you and the contractor. When hiring a contractor, it’s important that you secure a comprehensive written contract even if your state does not require it. Contracts must be clear, complete with details that you thoroughly understand. Make sure that you understand every detail in the contract before you affix your signature in the dotted line. Home Advisor can give you an idea of what important information you should look for in a contract.
Beware of the usual signs of a home improvement scam
A previous OnePoll (on behalf of Owens Corning Roofing) research revealed that at least one in three homeowners in the U.S. has fallen victim to a home improvement scam, resulting in an average of $12,434 loss in the process.
Be highly cautious of contractors that pressure you to make a decision or ask you to get building permits. Typical home improvement scams could include ‘too good to be true’ offers and discounts. Moreover, avoid a contractor that requires you to pay cash upfront or suggest you secure financing from a lender that the contractor knows. Lastly, always trust your instincts and ask for a second opinion. If you feel something is not right, it probably is.
If you believe that you’ve become a victim of such scams, your state attorney general’s office, local consumer protection, local media, and dispute resolution programs could help you with your situation.
Homeowners consider renovations or remodeling projects to make their homes even more comfortable. Hiring a home improvement contractor is often ideal if you don’t have the skills needed to do the job. However, it’s critical that you ensure hiring a legitimate contractor who will complete the project based on your requirements.