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Spotting Contractor Scams

While the vast majority of contractors are on the up-and-up, it's worth your while to be on the lookout for potential scams.

While the vast majority of contractors are on the up-and-up, it’s worth your while to be on the lookout for potential scams.

While the vast majority of contractors are on the up-and-up, it’s worth your while to be on the lookout for potential scams. There’s a lot of money to be made, and lost, on sub-par work. And worst-case scenario, you’re left with a home or project that is not only low-quality, but potentially dangerous to your family.

The Motley Fool, always one of our favorite websites for its no-nonsense language and jaunty tone, has a list of 10 super practical warning signs that can give you a heads up on a shady contractor before the job starts. Demanding up-front payments and pressure tactics are more obvious signs of someone you may not want to do business with, but beware the worker who was just “in the neighborhood” and offers to do work for an upfront fee (these types of scams are common for yard or tree work, and often targeted at older home owners).

“I’ve just resurfaced your neighbor’s driveway and I’ve got materials left over to do yours. Looks like it needs work soon. I’ll give you a really good deal.”

This and other “we’re in the neighborhood” lines are a warning. First, a legitimate contractor does not overbuy materials for a job and expect to unload them on the job site’s neighbor. Second, a legitimate contractor will not take on a job from the perspective of getting rid of excess materials. He or she will assess each job based upon its individual needs.

It may be legitimate for the contractor to contact you “since we’re in the neighborhood.” If that is the case, then you’ll want to speak to your neighbors to find out the quality of the work. You’ll likely not want to plunge in at that very moment, in any event.

The whole Motley Fool article is worth a read.

None other than the National Association of Home Builders has a good list of things to look for on the contractor front as well. Among the better bits here include a contractor not being able to produce a list of referrals, asking you to do the legwork on permits or licenses, not carrying sufficient licensing and insurance.

Also: Underbidding.

They may have the best price, but that doesn’t guarantee the best work. Such contractors may cut costs on quality, which can end up costing you more when you have to have the substandard work redone.

Finally, HouseLogic.com offers a list of common scams specifically related to remodels.

It’s worth a read if you have a big project, or live in an older, revitalizing neighborhood where remodels are common.

Posted on June 19, 2015 at 2:36 pm by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

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