Home Improvement Scams and How to Avoid Them
When it comes to the home improvement and repair industry most companies out there are honest and fair. But like other industries, it is not immune to scammers and con-artists looking to take advantage of innocent people.
In order to avoid falling prey to these fraudulent companies, it’s important to know the signs of a scam. Avoid working with companies that do the following:
1. Pressure for Quick Decision
A good company won’t hold a price hostage or pressure you into making an immediate decision. Qualified contractors know that home improvement services are a serious investment and understand if you need to take a few days to carefully consider your decision.
2. Ask for Payment Up Front or Only Accept Cash
While a reasonable down payment is part of the process, an excessive down payment, or asking for payment in full is a red flag. Most scam artists will take the money and run. A qualified company, on the other hand, should take a small deposit up front, leaving most of the balance to be paid at the completion of the job.
3. Claim there are Unforeseen Problems
It is true that unforeseen problems do happen but be cautious if your contractor starts finding reasons to increase prices. Be sure to put all changes in writing, and if you’re suspicious about price increases, consider getting a second opinion.
4. Knock on Your Door
Beware of a contractor that knocks on your door saying they were “just in the neighborhood.” An established company will earn business through advertisements or referrals. Going door-to-door to find work is a sign of a scammer.
5. Low-ball Prices
There will always be companies that consistently run ads promoting too-good-to-be-true pricing for services. This is a popular tactic used by fraudulent air duct cleaning companies to get their foot in the door. While on the job, they’ll only clean what you can see, leaving dirt and contaminants deep within the system, and will likely upsell you on unnecessary add-ons.
When working with a company be sure to follow these useful tips as well:
Get a Written Contract
Don’t rely on spoken promises. Even if the project is small and may cost a few hundred dollars, a written contract protects homeowners and companies.
Be sure the contractor you’re working with is certified and licensed for the work you are requesting. For example, when you hire a NADCA member, you can rest assured that your money is well-spent, and the job will be done with care. NADCA members have advanced training and certification in HVAC system cleaning and follow a higher standard when it comes to customer service.
Visit NADCA’s Find a Professional page to locate a NADCA member near you.