How to Avoid Home Contractor Scams and Find One You Can Trust
Whether you want to remodel your home or have a few repairs to tackle, a home contractor can help. With expertise and the right skills, a home contractor is the best solution for any big changes you’d like to make to your house. Unfortunately, home contracting scams are incredibly common.
Scammers love to take advantage of people looking for a home contractor. They offer contracting services, take your deposit, and then disappear with your money. Worse, some will begin the project, accept multiple payments, and then skip town.
How can you avoid a scam and find the best contractor for the job? It’s difficult to know which home contractors are honest and which make promises they can’t fulfill. Make sure you aren’t the victim of a scam – and that the contractor you pick is the best for your project – by taking these points into consideration.
The Difference Between a Home Builder and a General Contractor
Not all contractors are alike. The two you’ll hear about most frequently are home builders and general contractors. Though similar, these are two different professions. A home builder handles the construction side of projects, while a general contractor is the organizer. The general contractor hires and coordinates subcontractors like plumbers, electricians, and flooring specialists.
Some people choose to hire both a home builder and a general contractor. However, many people hire only a general contractor, who acts in both roles and has his own crew do the work. Unlike home builders, general contractors do not specialize in home improvement or construction. Instead, their job is to get the project completed.
Before you sign on the dotted line and hire a home contractor, take the following steps:
1. Make Sure to Verify Licenses
When you meet with a prospective contractor, make certain he is licensed, bonded, and insured. Never take the person’s word for it. You should ask to see the license and insurance information. Most states also have databases that you can search to make certain that your contractor’s license is current and in good standing.
Additionally, some contractors are certified in only certain areas, like electrical or construction. Every contractor is licensed differently, so you should also make certain that the contractor who you are considering is licensed in the particular area necessary for your project.
2. Get Recommendations
A common scheme used by home contracting scammers is sending people door to door to solicit business. You should avoid hiring a contractor who solicits your business in this manner. Instead, get recommendations from others when you are looking for a contractor to complete the work at your home.
You can talk to your friends and family members and ask them for recommendations of anyone whom they have used. You can also search the internet. When you find a contractor you like, read any complaints or reviews. You should also visit your local home improvement store and ask for recommendations there. These businesses know of different local contractors and can offer their own recommendations.
3. Make Sure to Verify Insurance Coverage
When you meet with your chosen contractor, ask if they have insurance. You should never just assume that a contractor has coverage. Ask them to show you their certificate of liability coverage. A contractor should have general liability insurance, which covers damage to property and bodily injury.
It’s also a smart idea to ask if your contractor is licensed and bonded. A license bond is a form of insurance that’s a guarantee from the insurance company that the work will be up to standards. It is best for you to hire a contractor that is licensed, bonded and insured.
Don’t rely on your homeowner’s insurance when you are planning to have work performed. Homeowner’s insurance won’t cover damage that occurs because of a contractor. Most companies view this type of damage as intentional and will not cover it.
4. Research the Company for Past Legal Issues
Researching a contractor for past legal problems is important. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, this should be your last bit of research – and you can complete a search on the internet. Make sure that there are no records or reports of lawsuits against any contractor you’re considering. You don’t want to hire someone who has a terrible track record of disputes with clients.
Find The Right Contractor for Your Project
Your home is your biggest investment, and when you hire a contractor, you’re placing your home and your money in their hands. It’s important that you avoid rushing into a project and that you take the time necessary to thoroughly vet the contractor you’re considering. When you do your due diligence, you may get the results that you envisioned and avoid becoming a fraud victim.
You need to do your research and get to know the contractor, their skills, and their history. And you can easily find the best contractor in your area with an online search.
Like anything, it’s always a good idea to be aware of the latest research. We recommend comparing at least 3 or 4 options before making a final decision. Doing a search online is typically the quickest, most thorough way to discover all the pros and cons you need to keep in mind.