5 Tips to Avoid a Home Improvement Scam

home remodeling

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.

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Being Wise with Your Windfall: Tips for Using Your Tax Refund

coins-currency-investment-insuranceIf you’re expecting a hefty tax refund this year, you may, like many people, intend to have some fun with your windfall. After all, it’s your money and you worked hard for it. There’s nothing wrong with heading out for some much-needed vacation time or buying a big gas grill for those summer cookouts. As tempting as that may sound, before you buy anything, consider the benefits of using a tax refund to better your financial situation.

Savings

If you’re among the many Americans who lack a rainy-day fund, think about setting all or part of your refund aside in an interest-bearing savings account. You never know when the transmission in your car may give out or an aging roof might start to leak. These are costly repairs, and the average American is unprepared for them; in fact, just 39 percent of Americans are capable of covering an emergency costing $1,000 or more. If you lack at least three months worth of emergency savings, that tax refund may serve you better as an emergency financial reserve.

If your roof could use some work, repairing it is an excellent use for a tax refund. You’ll head off more serious problems resulting from neglect somewhere down the line. But be diligent in looking for a qualified roofing contractor, and ask yourself several questions to determine what, exactly, you need. Check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure your contractor is accredited, and check out the BBB website for complaints or any disputes or scams a company may have been involved in, as well as tips regarding what to look out for.

Pay Down Debt

Debt is a fact of life for most Americans. If you struggle with credit card debt or are behind on the mortgage, your refund can help you out. Paying off debt is a smart move because the high-interest merry-go-round can be very hard to get off when you’re just managing it by paying the minimum every month. That can take you years to pay off even a moderate amount.

College Savings

According to CNN Money, most Americans can expect to pay about $57,000 for a degree at a public college, and more than $100,000 at a private institution. That’s a lot of money for anyone. Why not use your refund to open a 529 or Coverdell education savings account? And investing in your state’s 529 plan may result in a nice state income tax deduction. However, beware of using the money for unqualified purposes, which can earn you a 10 percent penalty.

Roth IRA

A Roth IRA lets you stash money away that becomes tax-free after age 59.5 as long as it’s been open for at least five years. You can contribute to it as you wish and withdraw the sum of your contributions without being hit with a tax or penalty. Your Roth earnings can be used tax-free for education expenses or for a first-time home purchase.

Invest in Yourself

You are your own most valuable resource, your best hope for earning and growing your assets. Improve your ability to do that by investing in training, additional education, or by joining a professional association. It’s a good way to sharpen your skill set, pick up new knowledge, and make valuable new professional connections. The more you can improve yourself, the more valuable you’ll be to an employer or to clients.

Travel

Speaking of self-improvement, are you aware that travel broadens perspective and helps you keep problems, challenges, failures, and successes in their proper context? Think about spending a portion of your refund to go someplace new, a destination that’s always interested you.

Think of a tax refund as an opportunity, an annual chance to improve your financial situation and personal prospects. Think carefully before heading off to the Jacuzzi store or ordering a season football ticket package. By being strategic with your financial prospects, you can put yourself in a much better position to acquire those “toys” you really want and achieve financial security.