If you have ever had to do any repairs or renovations to your home, you will know how costly, frustrating and lengthy the process can be. Whether it is refurbishing an entire room like your kitchen, or something simple like erecting a new wall, the whole process can be marked with challenges.
Home contractor scammers are rife globally, and there is a good reason for it. Firstly, home renovations are tricky, and most homeowners simply don’t know where to start. Whether it be installing a swimming pool, redoing the electrics in the home or fixing a leaking geyser, most people are clueless when it comes to the materials used or just how to go about the job.
Secondly, most people have no idea how much a project could cost. Apart from getting a ball-park figure online, most people have very little idea how much the materials will cost, how many labor hours are required and what the final tally will be.
Because it is so easy for scam artists to target unsuspecting homeowners, we thought we would put together a list of what you should look out for when you are hiring someone to work on your home. Here are our top tips.
Compare the Costs
The first place to start when you are doing your research is looking at the financials. Make sure you take some time in doing this and have all of your information at hand. You will automatically want to go for the more affordable options, however, this could be your biggest downfall.
Scam artists usually trap their victims by offering their services at a highly discounted rate. They promise that they can find the cheapest materials and slash labor costs. This should be a big warning sign to you!
Start your process by researching just what materials you will need for the overhaul and price each article. With this, you will have a rough idea of how much you can expect the contractor to charge. Then you can start comparing the costs of the services.
Make use of reputable sites like PriceYourJob.co.uk which will list the types of projects that are offered and how much they can roughly cost. This will allow you to go in with an upper hand.
Use the Right Resources to Find a Contractor
As mentioned, using the right resources to find a contractor is vital. Make sure that every online source is reputable. If you are using blogs and lists, make sure you analyze the website too. If it has questionable marketing banners and none of the other entries don’t check out, move on. Scammers can create recommendation lists and blogs to push their services, so make sure it is all legitimate.
If a contractor comes to your door offering services, be very wary. This is one of the most popular ways scammers trap their victims. They might claim to see some work that needs to be done, but in 74% of the cases, they are fraudsters moving through neighborhoods targeting the trusting and vulnerable.
Unfortunately, single women and the elderly are the most prone to scamming solicitors. You can get around this by asking for their website, business cars, contractor licenses and company information to check.
Check Previous Feedback and References
The next stage of your research is to check up their references and follow up on reviews. Their previous jobs and customers will be solid evidence that they are legitimate and that your project will be done correctly.
Facebook is a great place to research this. Every business page on Facebook has a feedback section where customers can leave their ratings, compliments, and complaints. This is a wealth of information for what you need to know about what to expect from your contractor.
Ask for previous work examples. In order to know that the contractor can actually do the job, find out if they have any previous examples that they could show you. Most contractors should have a portfolio of previous work completed in order to reassure customers that they are in good hands.
Analyze the Quotes and Contracts Thoroughly
This is one of the most important things to check before agreeing to a new contractor. There are various things to look out for in the paperwork before you sign. Firstly, should the contractor push you to sign, promising a massive discount if you do, heed that as a warning. Once you have given your signature, you are legally bound to the agreement.
The next thing to look out for is vague language and minimal detail about the job that the contractor is going to perform. Note, especially, the details about their obligations for the job. Make sure it has a defined timeline, the material breakdown and costs, the number of workers, the permits that have been acquired, subcontractors and the equipment. Any vague details can mean that a contractor can sneak something like equipment costs into the final bill that you didn’t agree on.
Keep an Eye on the Financials
The last thing to monitor is everything related to the financials of the renovation. Be alert at every stage of the interaction for anything with a red flag. If they ask for a massive deposit to start with, you will know that you are dealing with a scammer. Most deposits are usually around 10%, this is standard as the contractor will need to have a surety that you are paying too.
The next thing to look out for is increases throughout the project. Whether it be surprise subcontractors, equipment hire, or a sudden jump in material costs, they should not be deviating too much from the quote.
Scam contractors also have a habit of asking for a large lump sum to finish the project. This is totally unusual and you should never agree to it. Rather, halt the process immediately and possibly get the authorities involved.
When you are going into something like a house renovation, or a quick fix on something in the house that you don’t know how to do yourself, do not be scared to ask questions. You are certainly not alone in having limited knowledge of home DIY, and it does take a very skilled and experienced professional to do the right job for you.
Do your research thoroughly, expected small unexpected expenses and work with your contractor on expected budgets and timelines. The more you communicate with them as well as other professionals, the more likely the project will be a success.