Home Improvement Scams – How to Avoid Being a Victim

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The sad fact of life is that for every hundred reputable contractors who will carry out your home improvement project to your exact specifications, on time, and at a reasonable price, there are a few unscrupulous contractors out there whose only objective is to part you from your money as quickly as possible and with little regard for their workmanship or whether any work gets done at all!

Home Town Restyling, serving North Central Iowa, is sharing these tips to help Iowa homeowners avoid becoming a victim of these scammers.

First off, ask your friends for recommendations. They may have had work done by a remodeling contractor who carried out a professional job at a fair price. And, when you do talk to a contractor, have them tell you what certifications they have and whether they are members of a particular trade or business association. The residential contractor himself should be able to supply that information and give you contact details of associations in order to verify their claims or you can contact a particular trade association directly and ask them to recommend someone in your area.

Always ask for a written estimate or, better still, a fixed quote in advance of starting work. Make sure to get more than one written estimates so you can make price comparisons. Ask if there is any “small print” and ask them to explain anything you don’t understand. Amend the bid, if necessary, before you sign any documents.

You should also ask any tradesman certain questions over and above verifying their ability and reputation to do the job as mentioned above. This should include asking how many projects like yours they’ve completed in the past couple of years. Upon request, they should give you some references so you can call previous people who have had work carried out by them. Ask them to produce an insurance certificate so you can be sure that you will receive compensation should the job go wrong.

When it comes to payment, try to limit, or even eliminate any upfront payment as much as possible and always pay by check or by credit card. Never use cash. Quite often, a reputable residential contractor will not require any payment until the job is completed to your satisfaction. If it is a large job that’s going to take some time, they may require some form of payment upfront for materials and additional labor costs first. If that’s the case, make sure you have a written receipt and their signature to prove that they have received a payment before starting the job.

Where possible, negotiate payment in stages. For an example, a certain amount after 25% of the work is done, another payment after half is done and the rest upon satisfactory completion. Don’t make any final payment until you’re fully satisfied that the work has been completed to your specifications. If the contractor is using other sub-contractors, ensure that they have all been paid before handing over the final payment to the main contractor. Don’t make your final payment until the remodeler hands over written warranties for materials and for the quality of workmanship and make sure you have written proof that all sub-contractors have been paid in full.

Providing you ask the right questions, get satisfactory answers, do your research, and get everything put in writing, there should be no problem. But always watch out for scams, including remodeling contractors who will only accept cash, those who will ask you to pay for the entire job upfront, those who do not provide you with a business or a home address and telephone number or suggest that you borrow money to pay for the job from a lender they know.

Knowledge, vigilance and awareness are your best forms of protection in ensuring your home improvement project is finished without any problems.

Home Town Restyling has been serving the Iowa communities of Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Cedar Falls, Waterloo, Hiawatha, Marion, and Dubuque for over 25 years from their location in Hiawatha, Iowa.

Contact Home Town Restyling by visiting our web site www.hometownrestyling.com, calling us at (800) 397-0026, or use our online contact form 24 hours a day.