Don’t get hammered by these home contractor scams
While most home contractors are trustworthy, there are always those waiting to take advantage of too-trusting homeowners. Consumer Reports has identified these 3 contractor scams as ones to beware of and provides tips from the National Association of Realtors for avoiding them.
Scam #1: Your contractor says he needs 30% of the project’s cost upfront to rent equipment. You write the check and the contractor does sloppy work, thinking you won’t fire him since you’ve already paid him thousands.
Bam! Limit your upfront exposure. Pay only 10% of the total or $1,000--whichever is less—as a deposit to get on your contractor’s schedule. That’s it. Reputable contractors typically can get credit from their suppliers for materials and rentals.
Scam #2: When you discuss the project with the contractor, he agrees on every detail. Then you read the contract and some specs are missing. But you know he understood you when you were talking, so you sign it. When those extras aren’t worked on, you confront the contractor and he says you have to pay more.
Bam! You have no legal recourse since you signed the contract. Be sure the contract you sign includes every spec. And if you add anything, initial it and make sure the contractor initials it, too.
Scam #3: The contractor says a building permit isn’t needed. He says a permit only informs the tax assessor about your upgrade and will cause your taxes to go up.
Bam! Insist your contractor get a permit. It’s legally required for significant construction projects because local building inspectors will periodically inspect the work to confirm it meets safety codes. Even with smaller interior projects, having a building permit has advantages. It screens out unlicensed contractors and provides you with a third-party review of the work in-progress.
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