Once you’ve decided to hire a home professional to complete your home renovation project, jumping right in and getting the process started seems like the logical first step. Unfortunately, not every professional is equal. It is important to be wary of potential scams when it comes to hiring a home professional.
WE DIDN’T AGREE ON THAT
You’ve probably been advised on several occasions to “Get it in writing” and this applies to home renovation projects too. Any time you hire a contractor to do work on your home, there needs to be a written contract. For example, you may have discussed on the phone that you wanted three light fixtures installed above your bathroom mirror. Whether purposefully or on accident, the contractor may install only two, and insist that the price only includes such. By having a contract, both parties understand fully what the project entails to avoid confusion later on.
The contract should include the scope of the work, materials, estimated job start date and completion, work practices, change orders, payment plan/schedule, proof of insurance, and other specifics you or the contractor may request. According to Today’s Homeowner, contractors should give you as much time as you need to look over the contract, make changes if necessary, and ask questions. Avoid contractors that rush you to sign the contract immediately or dismiss the need for a contract. A contractor should be someone who is dedicated to meeting your needs and making the entire process comfortable.
I NEED THE MONEY UP FRONT
It makes sense for a contractor to ask for a little bit of money upfront to ensure that you follow through on your end of the deal and they don’t end up buying material only to have you back out of the job. However, a contractor should never ask for the entire payment to be made before the job is complete. According to home contractor Amy Matthews, it is common for contractors to ask for a percentage of the payment at the beginning, middle, and end of the project. In addition, Matthews says that some states have regulations on how much contractors are allowed to ask for upfront. For example, California contractors can ask for no more than 10 percent upfront, while some states don’t have any regulations. Do your research based on your location.
Once you determine the payment plan, it is wise to pay with a credit card so that you will have record of payment should you have to provide proof to the authorities in the chance the work you paid for isn’t completed according to your contract. No matter what payment method you use, ask for a copy of the receipt. If a contractor is hesitant to provide you with any requested information, this should be a red flag.
I CAN DO IT WITHOUT A PERMIT
Small projects such as painting, adding kitchen cabinets, or installing floor coverings won’t require a permit, but larger projects legally require one. Projects like guest houses, garages, storage buildings, gazebos, and fences, as well as additions, structural changes, and other major renovations, will require a permit, as will electrical, plumbing, and mechanical work.
If your contractor insists that they don’t need a permit but you are still unsure, contact your local government to be positive. If you or your contractor is caught completing work without a permit, this could result in a fine, removal of completed work, and the immediate halt of any ongoing work. This is just one of many potential home improvement blunders to avoid.
You and your contractor are a team, so make sure you are completely comfortable before giving them the responsibility of your home renovation.You have enough to worry about when it comes to getting a job completed. Don’t fall victim to scams, which will throw a wrench in the entire thing.