So far this summer, we’ve already seen one or two storms wallop the area, leading to leaky roofs, fallen trees, and other costly damages.
What many Main Line residents don’t know is that home improvement scams are pretty widespread here, particularly in the wake of major storms like these. To verse yourself in the many contractor crimes in Bucks and Montgomery Counties in recent years, just take a look at this article in the Bucks County Courier Times. According to the writer, New Jersey’s adoption of stricter laws for contractors in 2005 led many fraudulent contractors to cross the Delaware and set up shop here.
It’s important to stay educated about common home improvement scams so that you know how to recognize the warning signs and can avoid becoming a victim yourself. Take the time to familiarize yourself with our list of the most common scams:
1. Faking Damage: A classic home improvement scam. The contractor goes around door to door after severe weather and tells homeowners their homes have been damaged, even if they haven’t.
2. Worsening Damage: Even if your home really does require repairs, a fraudulent contractor might create more damage just so they can charge you for the work.
3. Stealing the Downpayment: The contractor forces you to pay a hefty downpayment before starting work. The second this person cashes your check, he disappears, completing little if any of the project.
4. Using the Cheapest and Worst Materials on the Planet: The contractor takes your money and buys the lowest-quality materials available. On the other hand, he might use decent materials to do slapdash, low-quality work that itself requires repairs.
5. Working with your Insurer: The contractor works directly with your insurer to get a hold of your insurance claim, then disappears.
6. Paying the Deductible: This signals funny business. Contractors offering to do it are usually trying to lure you in for a home improvement scam.
Be aware that just because someone is registered as a contractor in our state doesn’t mean they don’t have a history of scamming. So, how do you avoid these common home improvement scams?
- Do not hire a contractor who showed up at your door.
- Contact your state and local licensing agencies to verify licenses.
- Do a background check via your local Better Business Bureau.
- Sign a contract specifying the work to be done, the costs, and the timeframe.
- Don’t let the contractor do all of the communicating with your insurer. Maintain contact yourself.
- Watch out for signs of trouble like the contractor using a P.O. Box instead of a street address, lacking business cards, or lacking proof of insurance.