How To Identify A Scam On A Home Addition Project
- Home improvement scams are becoming increasingly common, but fortunately, some red flags can differentiate the real contractor from a scammer.
- Some scammers will offer deals that are too good to be true, like extremely low prices for materials or labor. Others might start work and never finish, leaving you with an incomplete project and a hefty bill.
- Check references, read online reviews, and get everything in writing before handing over any money.
- If you’ve been scammed, reach out for help from your local consumer protection agency or an experienced attorney.
Almost every week, there’s a new story in the news about someone being scammed out of their hard-earned money. And unfortunately, home improvement scams are becoming more and more common.
There are several ways that home improvement scammers target unsuspecting homeowners. They might offer too-good-to-be-true deals on materials or labor or promise to start work but never show up.
No matter what the scam is, there are a few things that you can do to protect yourself. This blog post is all about avoiding home addition/improvement scams!
What Are Some Common Home Improvement Scams?
There are many different home improvement scams, but they all share one common goal: to take your money without actually performing any work.
Below is a list of some of the most common home improvement scams:
1. The “Low Price” Scam
This is when a contractor offers an extremely low price for materials or labor, often without looking at the job first. They may even ask for a down payment upfront, disappearing once they have your money.
2. The “Incomplete Work” Scam
This is when a contractor starts work on a project but never finishes, leaving you with an incomplete job and a bill for the work that was done. Incompetent or unlicensed contractors may do this intentionally to get paid for work they cannot do.
3. The “Phony References” Scam
This is when a contractor provides fake references from previous customers or businesses that don’t even exist. Be sure to check any references yourself before hiring a contractor.
4. The “Bait and Switch” Scam
This is when a contractor uses high-quality materials or labor to bait you into hiring them but then switches to using low-quality materials or labor once the job has begun. This can leave you with a subpar home improvement job and a big fat bill to pay.
5. The “Phantom” or “Ghost” Contractor Scam
This is when a contractor takes your money but disappears without doing any work. Be sure only to hire reputable contractors with a good track record.
6. The “Storm Chaser” Scam
After major weather events, scammers often descend on an area offering quick and cheap repairs. But they often do shoddy work or take your money and run. So be extra careful if someone shows up unannounced offering services after a storm.
Avoiding the Scammers
It’s not easy to spot a home improvement scammer. They’re often professional and may have all the right paperwork, making them seem like legitimate businesses. But there are some red flags that you can watch out for:
Related article: How to avoid a contractor scam
1. Don’t Pay in Full Upfront
A legitimate contractor will usually ask for a down payment to cover materials. Still, they shouldn’t ask for the full amount before starting the job.
2. Do Your Research
Look up the name of the contractor’s company on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and check their online reviews before signing anything. And make sure they have all the proper licenses and insurance.
3. Get Everything in Writing
Ensure you have a detailed contract that includes a description of the work to be done, an estimation of necessary materials, a proposed completion date, and the price. Don’t go with the lowest bid immediately – ask for explanations if there are large discrepancies between estimates.
4. Beware of the Following!
- The contractor offers a “special deal” that’s only available if you act now.
- They pressure you into deciding on the spot.
- They’re not willing to provide references or address any of your concerns.
How to Hire the Right Contractor
Knowing where to start when looking for a home addition contractor is tough. But don’t worry, we’re here to help.
- First, talk to friends or family who have had similar projects done. This will help narrow down your search and make it easier to find a contractor. It’s best to ask people you know if they have any recommendations.
- You can also check online directories or review sites like Angie’s List.
- Compile a list of potential contractors and start doing your homework. Check out each one’s website and read customer reviews carefully.
- Make sure to check the Better Business Bureau and see if any complaints have been filed against the contractor.
- Always ask about their experience with similar projects, their availability, and their price range. Also, get everything in writing before you sign any contracts!
Just remember to do your research and take your time making a decision. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it!
What to do if You’re Scammed by a Contractor
You’ve just been scammed by a home improvement contractor. You’re out several thousand dollars, and the problem still isn’t fixed. What can you do to get your hard-earned cash back and protect yourself from future scams?
- First, contact your local Better Business Bureau and file a complaint. This will give other consumers a heads up about the contractor and may help them avoid being scammed.
- Next, reach out to your state Attorney General’s office and see if they can help resolve the issue.
- Finally, consult an experienced attorney to discuss your legal options and whether you can file a civil suit against the contractor.
Remember, the best way to avoid getting scammed in the first place is to do your research before hiring anyone!
Related: Renovate with caution!
Don’t let yourself be taken advantage of by a home improvement scam artist! Do your research and get everything in writing before starting any work. And if you find yourself in a sticky situation, don’t hesitate to reach out for help from your local consumer protection agency or an experienced attorney.
A home addition is a big investment, so you want to be sure you’re working with the best in the business. If you’re in the El Dorado Hills area, trust your project to Spectrum One – Natomas Showroom. We have the experience and knowledge to get the job done right, and we’re dedicated to providing our customers with the highest level of service. We’ll work with you every step to ensure you’re delighted with the final product.