Though the summer in Houston is a great time for engaging in many different fun outdoor activities, it is also the ideal time for homeowners to do the work that they need in order to maintain their homes properly. Unfortunately, this is also the perfect time for scam artists to come out of the wood work so that they can take advantage of many homeowners. In specific, the elderly who are unfamiliar with the tactics that unscrupulous home improvement contractors are infamous for using. To avoid these situations, there are some precautionary measures that can be taken, and they are listed below.
1 – Take an Active Approach in Looking for a Reputable Contractor – Avoid Dealing With Unsolicited Offers
It’s not uncommon for contractors to survey their neighborhoods in advance to see who their target audiences will be. In many cases, they simply appear to be contractors who can provide invaluable services on the spot, while they are really professionals who are skilled in cheating and taking advantage of people when they need the help most. Many of them can easily be identified since they may drive around with vans with no company name, no telephone contact information and limited offers that people have to jump at right away.
It is also important to note that no one should be allowed in or around the home that the owner does not know or has been sufficiently verified. This is because some of these contractors may gain access into the home so that they can come back later and steal what the owner’s possessions or cheat the owner out of their hard earned money.
#2 – Research the Vendor’s Background
Another important part of ensuring the home owner avoid scams is to research the vendor in advance. This can be done by checking reviews on online resources like Angie’s list and contacting the better business bureau for any information that they may have on file. These contractors must also have sufficient liability and workers compensation insurance and must be bonded for theft/damage.
#3 – Up-Front Cash Dealings Could Easily Be a Scam
Before home improvements are started, the owner may be required to pay a certain amount of money up-front. However, it is important to note that there are major differences between reputable contractors and those who perpetuate scams. One of the most important involves the amount of money required up-front. With a reputable contractor, the homeowner will only provide a deposit. Contrariwise, the scam artists will want full payment before they begin the improvements.
#4 – Be Cautious of Financing Offers by Contractors
Sometimes homeowner may not have all of the money for the job that they want to be done. So, they may have to obtain the financing to pay for the work. In these cases, the owner should make sure that the financing that they obtain is not secured from the contractor. This is because financing that has been recommended by a contractor can result in paying extra money, especially because they may be positioned to obtain kickbacks from their referrals. It is also important to note that most of their financing includes very high interest rates, and hidden terms that makes it difficult to pay the money back.
#5 – Don’t Approve the Work without a Formal Contract
If people think that they are getting a good deal from a friendly home improvement handyman, they really do not need a formal contract to be drawn up and signed. To the contrary, this is not true. The terms of the contract should be clearly written with details of the work to be done and the amount that will be paid once the job is done.