You’d like to think the best of people, but being too trustworthy can leave you vulnerable to contractor scams. Recently, a woman in Vanderburgh, Indiana was tricked into letting a pair of supposed “contractors” fix a leak, free of charge. When she let the pair into her home, they stole the jewelry from her bedroom.
“Homeowners can get ripped-off in a number of ways,” says Steve J. Bernas, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “The projects often carry a hefty price tag and it’s very important that consumers know who they are dealing with.”
Use these tips from the Better Business Bureau to make sure you’re always getting a reputable and trustworthy contractor.
Your contractor says: “I’m going to need a 50% deposit to get started.”
It’s normal for contractors to ask for an up-front payment before they begin a job. It ensures that you have the money to complete the project and that you’re committed to moving forward. What’s not normal is your contractor asking for more than 1/3 of the project cost in advanced payments. If you give your contractor more than ⅓ of the job in advance, you risk your contractor doing sub-par work or skipping out on the job completely.
At Cramer Siding & Window, it’s typical for salespeople to ask for up to 1/3 of the project cost as a down-payment. We would never take advantage of our customers and our salespeople follow strict guidelines on what types of payments they can request.
Your contractor says: “We don’t need to put everything in the contract. Just take my word for it.”
You and your contractor discuss the details of your project and you’re getting along great. Your contractor is agreeing to all if your ideas and even making suggestions for add-ons! Since you’re communicating so well, you assume it doesn’t matter if not everything makes it into the written contract because you “have an understanding.” This is where you get taken advantage of. You find that the details you thought you had agreed upon aren’t being built. Your contractor tells you that those features weren’t included in the written price, and that to finish the project you’ll need to make additional payments.
Cramer Siding & Window prides itself on making sure our customers experience no cost overruns. We write new contracts for all project updates, and you will never pay more than what’s stated in our contract. When you work with us, you’ll know exactly what you’re going to get and exactly what it will cost.
Your contractor says: “I can give you a cheaper price without a building permit.”
You are legally required to get a building permit for any large construction projects so that local officials can visit the project site to make sure the work meets safety requirements.
Instead, your contractor scams you by saying that he can quote you a cheaper price if you look the other way or apply for a homeowners permit. A lower price may sound good, but it means that your contractor has no obligation to meet those safety requirements. Even worse, if you went for the homeowners permit you are legally responsible to make sure your property is up to code when the inspector comes to visit.
At Cramer Siding & Window, we make it our priority to ensure that all of our installers are expertly trained and current on all of their certifications.
Your contractor says: “We ran into an unexpected problem.”
You and your contractor have already signed a contract and the project has begun. Before the project can be completed, your contractor tells you that they found some problems and the price you set together has grown substantially. Common “problems” include structural defects, termite damage or unavoidable design changes. In many cases, these problems may be legitimate. However, you should still be cautious of contractor scams that are designed to exploit your fears.
Your contractor says: “I just finished a job at your neighbor’s place and I have some extra materials…”
In this contractor scam, an unknown contractor knocks on your door and tells you they’ve just finished a project nearby. They have some extra materials (like wet cement) that can’t be stored. Instead of wasting it, they want to re-pave your driveway on the spot for a fraction of their normal price. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This deal is risky because you know nothing about the company and haven’t had time to check their references. Next year when your driveway starts cracking, they’ll be nowhere to be found.
Always work with professional installers rather than amateurs to get the job done right. Check references compulsively. Cramer Siding & Window is unique in that we employ all of our installers instead of sub-contracting to ensure we can control the quality of our services. We have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and strive for the most transparent policies in the industry. Don’t get duped by contractor scams. If you’d like to work with trustworthy professionals on your next project, fill out a free project estimate form here.