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.

Preparing for an Excellent Retirement

Retirement 4When I first heard the Beatles’ “When I’m 64” it seemed like it would be forever before I got there. But here I am. Eligible for Medicare and Social Security. Where did the years go?

 

Now that we’re nearing retirement, it’s time to make sure that we’re properly prepared. That’s important. Retiring when you’re not prepared can be costly. And, unfortunately some financial mistakes cannot be easily corrected.

 

Estimate Your Retirement Income

 

Your plans call for a comfortable lifestyle. An occasional meal out and a visit to see the grands at least once a year. And that costs money. Have you estimated your expected income and expenses after retirement?

 

Begin with your income. For most of us that could include a pension, Social Security, income from savings and retirement accounts (401k, IRA) and perhaps some part-time income. It’s easiest if you figure everything in annual/yearly amounts.

 

Start with your Social Security income. Their website has an has an estimator <https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/estimator.html> that’s helpful. You’ll want to have your prior year’s earning amount handy when you visit their site.

 

Add to that any pensions you may have earned. Some may pay you in a monthly check from the pension fund. Others will purchase an annuity for you which will pay a regular income. The pension administrator will be able to tell you how much to expect.

 

Ask your financial advisor how much you can expect to get from your savings and retirement accounts. Traditionally it was assumed that you could expect to earn/spend 4% on your investments without depleting the principal. But some advisors have begun to question that assumption and use different calculations.

 

You may choose to work part-time. Either because you need the income or because you’d be bored without work. Do a rough estimate on how many hours you’ll work each week and how much you’ll earn per hour. Then multiply by 52 to get an annual estimate.

 

Estimate Your Retirement Expenses

 

Traditionally it was assumed that you’d spend less in retirement than you did while you were working. The rule-of-thumb estimate was that you’d spend between 70 and 80% of your pre-retirement expenses. Many planners still use that as a fair estimate.

 

But some suggest that with more time to spend on hobbies and travel that retirees could actually spend as much or even more than they did when working. You’re in the best position to know what lifestyle you expect after retirement. And that puts you in the best place to estimate your post-retirement expenses.

 

Start with your present expenses for a year. Then make the appropriate adjustments.

 

Review Your Estate Plans

 

Much as we’d like to think that we’ll live forever it’s time to recognize that’s simply not true. And that we need to make provisions for the end of our life or a time when we cannot care for ourselves.

 

If your affairs are simple it’s tempting to attempt to do-it-yourself. But this has some serious downsides that might not become apparent until it’s too late. It’s not as simple as writing “I leave everything to _____” on a napkin and signing it. There are laws to follow. And they’re not the same everywhere. Some inheritance rules are different in each state.

 

You may think that “everyone knows” that you want your car to go to Junior, but that might not hold water with the department of motor vehicles when he tries to reregister it. And banks, credit card companies and other financial institutions can be sticklers for following the rules.

 

Incapacitation is another issue. The laws saying who can make decisions for you if you become incapacitated are complex. Failure to follow them could leave you dependent on a state appointed guardian to make decisions for you. I prefer to have someone I trust make those decisions for me.

 

As a general rule you’ll need the following documents:

– a will providing instructions as to how your assets are to be distributed.

– a durable power of attorney listing on can act on your behalf

– health care power of attorney authorizes someone to make medical decisions for you

– living will states your wishes for life-sustaining measures if your prognosis is terminal.

 

In some cases, if you have a need for privacy or your affairs are complicated you may want to explore a Revocable Living Trust.

 

Spend a Little Time Learning About Retirement Finances

 

Retirement is a big change in your life. And a big change in your finances. In most cases the biggest change since you entered the workforce.

 

Not only will your income and expenses change, but Some financial issues will take on a new urgency while others fade in importance. This is not a time to put your finances on autopilot and assume that everything will work out for the best.

 

There is one big difference in retirement finances that can affect every decision you make. Unlike when you’re younger and working you do not have time on your side. Some decisions cannot be undone and a mistake could seriously affect your retirement lifestyle or your estate.

 

It’s wise to seek wise professional counsel and read quality information sources. Both will serve you well in this stage of your life.

Also, check out How to Use Your Emergency Fund In Retirement

 

author’s bio: Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and has shared sound personal finance advice since 1982. He founded <a href=”https://www.stretcher.com/index.cfm?KimHoward“>The Dollar Stretcher.com website href=”https://stretcher.com/subscribe/subscribeAFF.cfm?Kim Howard“>After 50 Finance newsletter</a>. Also by Gary Foreman: <a href=”https://www.stretcher.com/stories/18/18jul23c-how-to-use-emergency-fund-in-retirement.cfm?KimHoward“>How to Use Your Emergency Fund In Retirement</a>