5 Tips to Avoid a Home Improvement Scam

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With alarming regularity the media reports of home improvement scams occurring in one community after another. You undoubtedly have heard tales of people falling victim to different types of home improvement scams. Indeed, each and every day intelligent people become victims of home improvement scams. There are five key tips and tactics to bear in mind to assist you in falling prey to a home improvement scammer.

 

Do Due Diligence

The most crucial to bear in mind to avoid a home improvement scam is to do due diligence before you hire a contractor. Certainly, if someone comes to your door with some type of home improvement “deal” that seems to good to be true, never “sign up” on the spot. A deeper discussion of door-to-door home improvement solicitations follows shortly.

 

The breadth of due diligence that must occur before retaining the services of any home improvement contractor must include:

  • obtaining and contacting references

 

  • verification of licensing, insurance, and bonding

 

  • check with Better Business Bureau

 

A part of due diligence should also include obtaining references from family, friends, and colleagues who’ve engage the services of the type of home improvement contractor you now consider engaging. Odds are that you have people in your life who’ve retained the services of the type of home improvement contractor you currently may need.

 

Research the Ins and Outs of a Specific Home Improvement Project

Another important step that you need to take to protect yourself from a home improvement scam is to undertake research on the project you want to undertake. Although you may not have the skill set or desire to do a home improvement project yourself, by educating yourself on how a specific project is undertaken you put yourself in a better position of understanding if a prospective contractor is being aboveboard with you.

 

Beware of Door-to-Door Solicitations

As noted above, there are instances in which a so-called home improvement contractor seeks business by going door-to-door. Generally speaking, such a person or company should be avoided.

 

These types of solicitations are more common place in the aftermath of an event like a severe storm. Businesses holding themselves out as bona fide roof contractors may work your neighborhood seeking to be hired. While absolutely statements typically are best avoided, a fair statement is that a considerable percentage of people pounding the pavement in this manner may prove to not be the most reputable folks around. Indeed, this door-to-door tactic is adopted by a good many scammers, including in the aftermath of a major weather event.

 

Pay Close Attention to Payment Arrangements

Another signal that a prospective home improvement contractor may not be on the up-and-up is a situation in which full payment upfront is requested or required. Experienced, reliable, and reputable home improvement contractors typically do not employ this type of payment scheme.

 

A typical payment structure used by reputable home improvement contracts typically includes a deposit of between 25 and 33 percent. There are then agreed milestone payments along the way. A final payment is not tendered until you have the opportunity to fully inspect and accept the work undertaken by a contractor.

 

Check the Warranty

Another tip to bear in mind involves checking any proposed warranty. Scammers oftentimes entice targets with what seem to be amazing warranties for different types of home improvement projects. You absolutely must directly and independently verify such a purported warranty before engaging the services of a home improvement contractor.

 

By employing these tips and tactics you will best protect yourself against becoming the victim of some sort of home improvement scam. In addition, these suggestions not only will assist in preventing you from becoming victimized but will also ensure that you retain the services of the best possible home improvement contractor for your specific project.

 

 

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Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who writes for Scaffold Store, the favorite and trusted scaffold supplier of the largest contractors.

Do You Have the Cash to Cover Common Home Repairs?

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If you’re in the process of buying your first home, you probably already know that you have to save for a down payment, put money aside for furniture, and fund an escrow account. However, there are many other expenses that you may not have considered. One of these is the cost of home repair and maintenance. Popular money blog Generation X Finance explains that “unexpected expenses that can really put a hurt on your budget if they aren’t accounted for.”

 

Before we get into specifics, let’s talk about ways you can protect yourself from overspending. First, maintain your home. This means having your major systems serviced annually, cleaning, painting, and repairing issues on the exterior as they arise, and treating your home and appliances with respect. You also have to be on the lookout for less-than-honest contractors who might dupe you into paying for repairs you don’t really need or, worse, cause damage to your property that they can conveniently fix for the “low price” of X extra dollars. Before bringing any repair professional into your home, do your research. Look online for reviews, and interview at least three service providers for each new home repair or improvement project.

 

How Much Do I Need?

 

No universal dollar amount is guaranteed to cover all of your unexpected home repairs. However, it is generally accepted that you should put aside approximately 2 to 4 percent of your home’s value specifically for this purpose. For example, if your home is valued at $350,000, plan to have at least $7,000 stashed away. And remember, your homeowner’s insurance won’t cover issues related to general wear and tear or negligence.

 

Common Repairs

 

Perhaps one of the most expensive home repairs you’ll encounter is installing a new roof. If you have plain asphalt shingles, you may be able to get away with adding a second layer if the underlying structure is in good shape. Eventually, however, you’ll have to do a complete replacement, and that can cost $10,000 or more. If your roof has missing shingles, damaged flashing, or you can see visible evidence of flooding, such as discolored or water-stained walls, you may need a new roof sooner rather than later.

 

Your HVAC unit is another significant expense that can range from about $3,700 to $15,000 depending on the size of your home and type of system you need. Hyde’s Air Conditioning, a California-based HVAC company founded in 1972, explains that even a well-maintained air conditioner will only last approximately 15 years. If yours is more than 10 years old or doesn’t keep your home comfortable from season to season, it may be time for a replacement.

 

Your electrical panel is, fortunately, something you can expect to last for many decades. However, they are not without faults, and an upgrade may be necessary if the home has been added onto or if you notice signs of faulty wiring, such as discolored power outlets, flickering lights, or a burning smell. A new 200-amp electrical panel costs between $1,300 and $3,000.

 

The plumbing system is another moving part that may require periodic repairs. Leaky faucets, clogged toilets, and busted pipes can cost hundreds of dollars each incident. If you have to replace your hot water heater, you can expect a bill of up to $1,500 depending on the type and size of the unit you need. More extensive repairs, such as replacing your incoming water pipes or outgoing mainline, can cost as much as a small car.

 

Don’t let unexpected expenses turn your dream home into a nightmare. Plan ahead for major repairs, and take your time when choosing a contractor. Your situation may be urgent, but you’ll be in far worse shape if you make a rash decision now.

 

Image via Pixabay