Beware of strangers that knock on your door offering to do repairs such as repave your driveway, replace your gutters or landscape your property using leftover materials from a previous job. Often, they will give you a verbal quote offering to do the work and say that they would normally charge twice the price for the repairs. The scammers probably will not offer nor provide a written estimate and will require a significant upfront payment. Here are a few tips to avoid home repair fraud:
- Ask to see the contractor’s business license and other credentials.
- Use local contractors when possible; never let strangers into your home without verifying their business affiliation.
- Get a second opinion about what work needs to be done. The web is full of sites that offer consumer feedback on various businesses.
- Get written estimates from several licensed firms. Remember, the lowest price is not necessarily the best deal, nor does the highest quote suggest superior service.
- Ask for local references and call them.
- Before any work begins or money is paid, get a written, signed contract that spells out all the details of the work, including materials, deadlines and the total cost.
- Make sure the contractor obtains all applicable permits and that all required inspections are completed.
- Check on the work as it is being done.
- In the case of exterior work such as driveways, gutters, sidewalks, landscaping and fence installations, ask for references for work done by the contractor 1-2 years ago.
Remember, if a deal sounds too good to be true…beware!